Apollo 11 was the first manned US space mission aimed at getting a human being to walk on the surface of the Moon. The mission was sent into space on July 16th, 1969, and reached the Moon on July 20th of that same year. Two astronauts, Armstrong and Aldrin, walked on the lunar surface. The mission was officially known as AS-506 and is considered one of the most significant moments in the history. Now, Laura Murray Cicco says she has a sample of Moon dust that Neil Armstrong, the first man to set his foot on the Moon, gave her in 1972 when she was only 10.
Five decades later, Murray has decided to sue NASA for fear that the agency will confiscate her valuable gift and the last Wednesday, following a petition filed in federal court in Kansas, US, the authorities seek to establish property rights to the material, as local media reported.
“Laura received this [Moon dust] from Neil Armstrong, so it’s hers and we just want to establish this legally,” said Chris McHugh, the plaintiff’s attorney.
Although NASA has always claimed that all lunar material belongs to the US Government, it has never expressed its intention to claim Murray’s sample.
Is it Moon dust in Murray’s jar or not?
The owner claims that the jar holding Moon dust was given to her by her father, Tom Murray, who apparently maintained a close friendship with Armstrong when the astronaut was teaching in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Cincinnati State University.
According to the woman, the gift was delivered to her with a personal dedication:
To Laura Ann Murray – The best of luck. Neil Armstrong Apollo 11
However, the evidence on the contents of the jar offers conflicting conclusions as to whether the material is actually lunar dust.
The Bruker Corporation, an analytical company in Massachusetts, found that the spectroscopy test indicated that the sample was indeed similar to that of the Moon dust, while an X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy showed, on the contrary, that the chemical composition was not consistent with material from the Moon.