Woman sues NASA to keep moon-dust gifted by Neil Armstrong


Cicco has filed a lawsuit against the space agency to preemptively stop any attempts by NASA to claim the vial is their own property, since NASA does have a history of going after unauthorized lunar samples even if they've never set their sights on this vial just yet.

A USA woman sued NASA, for her right to hold on to a vial of moon dust that she received from Neil Armstrong when she was ten.

The lawsuit filed June 6 is asking the U.S. District Court in Kansas to decide who owns the dust.

"There is no law against private persons owning lunar material".

Still, the government could claim possession of the vial.

If the initial findings are replicated, the vial would be extremely valuable but legally hazardous to sell.

The handwritten note is what Cicco's attorney, Christopher McHugh, told the Post will be essential in proving the rightful owner of the moon dust. "I didn't want that to happen to Laura". The lawsuit, he explains, is to keep NASA from seizing it from her, as the agency has done to other private citizens in the past. She says that she got the dust tested and the signature verified, and they are both real.

"Neil Armstrong wouldn't have had the authority to give the moon rock away", he said.

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Cicco said the vial was a gift from Armstrong, a friend of her dad, Tom Murray, a former professor at the University of Cincinnati.

The two men were apparently close enough that Mr Armstrong gave Mr Murray a gift for his young daughter.

Decades later, she rediscovered the vial of pale grey dust in her parent's belongings. It was from the moon, her mother told her.

She is seemingly concerned that the government might attempt to come after her-NASA has previously taken the legal position that "private persons can not own lunar material", and has criminally investigated people claiming to sell such lunar material or otherwise tried to seize such artifacts.

Mr McHugh says the 2012 law created a "loophole" for lunar material that this case would attempt to close. "Lunar material is not contraband", the lawsuit states. "It is not illegal to own or possess".

In court filings, McHugh said the lunar sample has been moved to an undisclosed location in Kansas, while Cicco continues to live in Tennessee.

Cicco made a decision to sue based on the story of Joann Davis, who said her husband, an Apollo program engineer, had given her two paperweights that contained fragments of lunar material. She is suing NASA to ensure her ownership of the artifact. She and her second husband were allegedly lured to a Denny's restaurant by an informant posing as a broker, only for them to be arrested and questioned by federal agents for the next two hours.

Mr McHugh has also represented another client who bought a priceless lunar sample bag which was mistakenly put up for auction after it was confiscated from a space museum director who stole it from the collection.