ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) — It came from outer space, but ended up for sale at a St. Louis auction house. Then the feds stepped in.
“There have been rumors about this material being on the black market for years,” said U.S Attorney Richard Callahan. “But no one knew for sure.”
The U.S Attorney’s Office in St. Louis says it has returned what it believes is moon dust from the Apollo 11 Missions to the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Callahan says there are no charges pending against the auction house, Regency-Superior Auctions, nor against the woman who tried to sell it. The name of the consignor is not being released. She apparently acquired it from her late husband, but it’s not clear how he got it.
Callahan believes the lunar soil is part of a batch smuggled out of NASA by an employee. “It was in a piece of tape, protected under heavy plastic,” explains Callahan. “We’re talking about a very very small amount.” That piece of tape was apparently later sold to a German national who divided it up in to smaller pieces and sold it as space memorabilia.
Preliminary tests done at NASA confirmed it was lunar material, Callahan said.
On having the lunar material in his office for a day, Callahan quipped, “It wasn’t much to look at, but I will never be that close to the moon again.”
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