Neil Armstrong moon powder: woman demands NASA to keep the lunar memory

Laura Murray Cicco has sued NASA so he can keep a vial of moon dust that he says Neil Armstrong gave him when he was young. (Christopher McHugh)

It was a Saturday, and Laura Murray was a 10-year-old girl hanging out with her nanny outside of her family's house in Cincinnati. His mother, stunned by emotion, handed the girl a small glbad jar filled with light gray powder. It was from the moon, his mother told him.

Along with this was handwritten note:

"To Laura Ann Murray – Best of luck – Neil Armstrong Apollo 11."

Murray, who is now Laura Cicco, did not see the vial for decades after that day, although she kept the autograph in her bedroom. Five years ago, after her parents died, she found him while checking her parents' possessions.

"I came running to where my husband was and I told him:" This is the jar of moon dust. "I have it," Cicco said. "At the time, we really did not know what to do with that."

Last week, Cicco sued NASA to make sure she can keep what "rightfully" belongs to her. It was an attempt to get ahead of the space agency, which has not appropriated the road, but has a history of confiscating suspicious material from private citizens, said Cicco's attorney, Christopher McHugh

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Cicco states in his lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court, that the moon dust was a gift from Armstrong, who was a friend of his father, a pilot for the US Army Air Corps. UU during the Second World War and for the Federal Aviation Administration. Armstrong and Tom Murray, who spent much of their career flying politicians and dignitaries, were members of The Silent Birdmen, a secret club of male pilots, Cicco said. And sometime in the 1970s, when Armstrong was a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati and the Murray family lived in the city, the astronaut gave the vial of moon dust to his friend's girl.

There is no law that prohibits citizens from possessing materials from the moon, said McHugh, and Cicco is the legitimate and legal owner of the moon dust. The proof is Armstrong's handwritten note, which has been authenticated by a handwriting expert, McHugh said.

A note that Laura Cicco says Neil Armstrong wrote to her. (Christopher McHugh)

Citing the pending lawsuit, a NASA spokeswoman said it would be "inappropriate" for the agency to comment.

An expert who tested and badyzed the dust found that the sample "may have originated" on the surface of the moon, court documents say. One test found that the mineralogy of dust is consistent with the known composition of the lunar soil. Another test found that the composition of the sample was similar to the "average crust of the Earth".

Despite the varied findings, the expert wrote in his report that "it would be difficult to rule out the lunar origin" and that it is possible that some dust from the Earth "mixed with this probable moon sample".

Cicco's complaint cites a previous case in which an elderly California woman accused NASA officials of seizing lunar memories that her late husband, an Apollo program engineer, had given her. Joann Davis said her husband left her two paperweights that contained a fragment of lunar material the size of a grain of rice, or "moonrock," and a piece of the Apollo 11 heat shield. Davis said that Armstrong gave the memories to his husband, Robert Davis.

Joann Davis decided to sell the paperweight in 2011 after falling in difficult times. She contacted NASA, hoping the agency would help her find a buyer. But a NASA official suspected that Davis had committed a crime by smuggling or stealing government property, as Fred Barbash [1945-9029] of the Washington Post wrote.

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The Office of the Inspector General of NASA launched a lunge against Davis, who was then 74. An informant called Davis, posing as a broker and promising to help her sell the paperweights. On May 9, 2011, Davis and his second husband went to a Denny's restaurant, thinking they were meeting with the broker to finalize the sale. But three armed federal agents greeted the couple and took them to the parking lot for a two-hour interrogation, according to court records.

Davis was not charged. The couple sued in 2013, alleging improper search and seizure, illegal detention, illegal detention and other constitutional violations. A federal district court dismissed the lawsuit, but in April 2017, a judge of an appeals court ruled against the NASA criminal investigator saying "there were no interests of the law" to arrest an elderly woman.

Davis reached a $ 100,000 settlement with the government, according to court records.

While Davis only had his late husband's word that memories belonged to her, Cicco has proof that Armstrong had given him the vial, said McHugh, the lawyer.

"If you look at the Davis case, what NASA is essentially saying is that the lunar material in private hands is stolen property, and that simply is not true," McHugh said, adding, "This is not stolen property." . Laura should not fear that NASA is going to knock on her door and barge in and try to take the vial. "

Cicco, who now lives in Tennessee, said he does not have the vial in his possession. kept for safekeeping.

Fred Barbash contributed to this publication.

Read more:

Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon, dies at 82

The long lost time Apollo 11 discovered artifacts in the closet of Neil Armstrong

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