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Woman sues NASA in Kansas over moon dust possession

June 9, 2018

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Tennessee woman is suing NASA in Kansas to affirm her ownership of lunar dust she says astronaut Neil Armstrong gifted to her.

Laura Murray Cicco filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday seeking to establish her moon dust ownership under the Declaratory Judgment Act of the United States Code, the Kansas City Star reported.

Cicco was 10 when her mother gave her a vial of dust with a note appearing to be from Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon and a friend Cicco’s father.

“To Laura Ann Murray — Best of luck — Neil Armstrong Apollo 11,” the note read.

NASA has not tried to claim ownership of the dust, but Cicco filed the lawsuit proactively because the agency’s position is that all lunar material 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 Chris McHugh, her attorney.

Cicco lives in Tennessee but filed her lawsuit in Kansas because of a 2016 case in Wichita where a federal judge ruled in favor of a collector who bought a space bag with moon dust that was mistakenly placed in an online government auction. The bag sold at auction last year for $1.8 million. McHugh also represented the collector.

Cicco’s family moved to Cincinnati in 1969 or 1970, where her father Tom Murray became close enough friends with Armstrong that the former astronaut signed his note to Cicco on the back of one of Murray’s business cards. The signature has been authenticated by an expert as Armstrong’s, according to the lawsuit.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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