In a rather peculiar case, a Manchester, Tennessee resident has sued NASA. She wants to keep a vial of moon dust given to her by Neil Armstrong, when she was 10 years old.
The space agency, however, maintains citizens can't possess extraterrestrial objects. On her part, Laura Murray Cicco claims no law outlines this, in her lawsuit she filed on Wednesday.
In 2011, NASA informed the court that citizens can't keep such items, upon learning that a California-based woman Joann Davis tried selling a paperweight containing lunar material.
Davis' late husband, who was an engineer on Apollo 11 -the spacecraft that took Armstrong to space, gave her the item.
Now, Cicco is challenging NASA to ensure the vial (whose size is equivalent to a lipstick) stays with her.
Cicco claims Armstrong was friends with her father and gave her vial with a note- "To Laura Ann Murray - Best of Luck - Neil Armstrong Apollo 11."
She filed a lawsuit to get ahead of the agency after Davis' incident, in hope of keeping what is 'rightfully theirs'.
She got an expert to confirm it was Armstrong's signature, and the result was affirmative.
An expert, Tom Tague of the Bruker Corporation said the vial "may have originated from lunar regolith."
The lawsuit states lunar material is not contraband. "She (Cicco) is the rightful and legal owner."
Notably, Davis too had sued NASA for spying on her and claimed the agency's search was unlawful. She had settled the case for $100,000.
Ironically, NASA has a history of gifting moon's objects to influential people. So far, 842 pounds (382 kg) of moon rocks have been collected by astronauts and brought home.
In the past, NASA presented plaques containing silver of moon rocks to famous people, some of which found a way to black market.
But, a vial of moon dust poses a huge problem!
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