Woman Takes NASA to Court Over Neil Armstrong's 'Piece of Moon' Gift

Astronaut Harrison Schmitt uses an adjustable sampling scoop to retrieve lunar samples during the Apollo 17 mission

Laura Cicco claims in a federal lawsuit that astronaut Neil Armstrong gave her parents the moon dust as a gift almost 50 years ago.

The lawsuit, which Cicco filed this week in federal court, is a proactive measure to prevent NASA from attempting to claim the vial of dust.

In the lawsuit, Cicco says that the vial of precious moon dust was a gift from Armstrong in the 1970s, Washington Post reports. She found the vial five years ago while going through her parents' belongings.

Cicco, who was 10 when her father, Tom Murray, handed her the vial, at the time didn't understand its significance.

Along with the dust, Armstrong also gave her a note which read, "To Laura Ann Murray - Best of luck - Neal Armstrong Apollo 11".

It wasn't until Ms Cicco and her husband Chris tried to get the contents of the vial tested that they realised they might have a problem on their hands.

One expert agreed it may be of lunar origin, while another expert found a similar composition to Earth dust, but clarified that some Earth dust could be mixed in and refused to rule out a lunar origin.

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA has taken the position that all lunalogic material is the property of NASA", the Cicco's lawsuit claims, citing the Davis case.

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Private ownership of lunar material is a contentious legal issue in the US.

Laura Murray Cicco isn't the only private citizen to have sued NASA over items from previous moon mission in their possession. But a Nasa official suspected that Davis had committed a crime by being in possession of contraband or stolen government property, as The Washington Post's Fred Barbash wrote.

Woman sues NASA over a moon dust gifted to her by Neil Armstrong. According to court documents, an expert who analyzed the dust would only say the moon dust sample "may have originated" from the moon's surface. "She is the rightful and legal owner".

"Since there is a court case involving this, it would be inappropriate for NASA to comment", a company spokesman told Ars.

But three armed federal agents greeted the couple and took them to the parking lot for a two-hour questioning, according to court records.

The alleged moon dust, which remains in the transparent glass beaker about the size of a small finger is being kept in a secure location in Kansas, according to McHugh.

But Mr McHugh says that people like Ms Cicco who can prove they did not steal the material should be allowed to own it without interference from Nasa.

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