A woman from Tennessee has filed a lawsuit against NASA in Kansas, in an attempt to keep a vial of moon dust that was a gift from astronaut Neil Armstrong himself.
The vial was given to the woman by her mother in about 1972, when she was a child. She was told that it was moon dust, and it came with a note from Armstrong, who was the first man to walk on the moon.
NASA Moon Dust Lawsuit: Woman Wants To Keep Armstrong's Gift
Laura Murray Cicco filed a federal lawsuit against NASA, as she seeks to establish ownership of the vial of moon dust under the Declaratory Judgment Act of the United States Code.
"To Laura Ann Murray - Best of luck - Neil Armstrong Apollo 11," the note accompanying the vial of moon dust reads. Her mother handed it down to Cicco when she was 10 years old. Armstrong was a close friend of Cicco's father, Tom Murray, who taught at the Department of Aerospace Engineering in Cincinnati's state university.
NASA has not attempted to acquire the moon dust, but Cicco decided to preemptively file the lawsuit because the position of the agency is that all material from the moon belongs to the nation.
"Laura was rightfully given this stuff by Neil Armstrong, so it's hers and we just want to establish that legally," said Cicco's lawyer, Chris McHugh.
While Cicco is from Tennessee, she and McHugh decided to file the lawsuit in Kansas due to the results of a case in Wichita in 2016. A federal judge allowed a collector to keep Armstrong's moon dust bag, which was mistakenly included in an online auction by the government. McHugh also represented the collector, who was able to sell it last year for a price of $1.8 million, answering questions on how much is moon dust worth.
Moon Dust May Be Dangerous
While moon dust on Earth is harmless, it is a different story on the moon itself. According to a recent report, moon dust may kill the chances of astronauts setting up a lunar colony due to its potentially harmful effects on human health.
A study revealed that moon dust that is fine enough to be inhaled may kill up to 90 percent of human lung cells. The research was necessitated by experiences of the astronauts on the Apollo 17 mission, who said that they experienced lunar hay fever from inhaling moon dust that accumulated on their gear.