Tennessee woman sues NASA to keep her vial of moon dust from Neil Armstrong

Tennessee woman sues NASA to keep her vial of moon dust from Neil Armstrong

A Tennessee woman has filed a lawsuit against NASA arguing that she should be able to keep a vial that she says is moon dust given to her by legendary astronaut Neil Armstrong.

Laura Murray Cicco pre-emptively sued the agency this month, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, asking the U.S. District Court in Kansas to rule that she is the rightful owner of the dust.

Her lawsuit challenges NASA’s declaration in a 2011 court case that private citizens cannot own lunar material.


"There is no law against private persons owning lunar material. Lunar material is not contraband," the lawsuit states. "She is the rightful and legal owner."

Cicco said in the lawsuit that Armstrong, a friend of her father’s, gave her the vial as a gift when he was teaching at the University of Cincinnati, where she lived as a child.

“Best of luck,” Armstrong wrote in a note accompanying the vial. Cicco has had the signature verified and the lunar dust tested, according to the lawsuit.

NASA’s declaration that a citizen cannot own lunar material stems from the case of Joann Davis, the widow of an Apollo engineer, who attempted to sell a paperweight with lunar dust inside of it given to her by her late husband. The agency conducted a sting operation on Davis in 2011 to seize the paperweight.

Davis also sued NASA, accusing officials of unlawful search and seizure, later reaching a $100,000 settlement.