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Woman sues NASA over ownership of moon dust vial she claims was gift from Neil Armstrong

| Wednesday, June 13, 2018, 9:51 p.m.
Laura Murray Cicco claims she owns a vial of moon dust given to her by Neil Armstrong. She is suing NASA to ensure her ownership of the artifact. (Photo: Provided/U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas)
Laura Murray Cicco claims she owns a vial of moon dust given to her by Neil Armstrong. She is suing NASA to ensure her ownership of the artifact. (Photo: Provided/U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas)

A Tennessee woman is suing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration out of fear that NASA will try to confiscate a vial of moon dust she inherited through her parents.

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

Cicco claims in the lawsuit that the vial is authentic, despite experts' questions about the material.

Lunar material is excluded from a 2012 law stating that astronauts retain ownership of artifacts they bring home from space missions.

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

“I wasn't really excited about it,” she recalled, The BBC reported.

Decades later she rediscovered the vial and had its contents tested.

The lawsuit claims Cicco should be able to keep the vial.

“There is no law against private persons owning lunar material,” it reads. “Lunar material is not contraband. It is not illegal to own or possess.”

Still, the government could claim possession of the vial.

Joseph Gutheinz, a former senior special agent of NASA's inspector general, said that lunar rocks and materials belong to the United States government.

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

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