WICHITA, KS (CBS Local) – A woman is suing NASA over a gift she claims was given to her by the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong.
- A woman is suing NASA to keep moon dust given to her by Neil Armstrong
- The moon dust was reportedly given to her as a gift in the 1970s
- NASA has previously tried to seize moon items from private citizens
Laura Murray was 10 years old when her mother gave her a note and a small vial of dust while sitting in front of their Cincinnati home. The gray dust turned out to be moon dust and the hand-written note read, “To Laura Ann Murray — Best of Luck — Neil Armstrong Apollo 11.”
Murray’s parents had reportedly become friends with the famous astronaut while he was teaching in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. According to The Kansas City Star, Armstrong and Murray’s father were both military pilots before Armstrong joined NASA and entered the history books. Armstrong’s note to Laura is actually written on the back of Tom Murray’s business card.
Although the note never left the woman’s sight, her souvenir moon dust was lost until five years ago when Murray – whose married name is now Laura Cicco – was going through her late parents’ possessions.
“I came running where my husband was and I said, ‘This is the vial of moon dust. I have it,'” Cicco said, via The Washington Post. “At that time, we didn’t really know what to do with it.”
Laura Cicco is now taking steps to make sure Armstrong’s dust stays in her possession forever. Fearing NASA may try to seize the moon material, Cicco is suing in federal court to certify that the moon dust was given as a gift and is her rightful property.
The lawsuit stems from NASA’s actions in 2011 when the space agency seized an elderly woman’s moon rocks, which had been left to her by her late husband who was an Apollo program engineer. Joann Davis was reportedly selling the rocks after falling on hard times financially and was detained and questioned by NASA officials who took the rocks from her.
However, the California resident sued the government and was eventually given a $100,000 settlement in 2017 after a court ruled that NASA had “no law enforcement interest” to do what they did to Davis.
Laura Cicco is now filing to make sure NASA doesn’t try the same thing with her. The Tennessee resident has even filed in the same court in Wichita, Kansas where a man beat the government who was trying to take back a bag used by the Apollo 11 crew.
“If you look at the Davis case, what NASA is essentially saying is that lunar material in private hands is stolen property. And that’s just not true,” Cicco’s attorney Christopher McHugh said.
Experts have already confirmed that the key piece of evidence – Neil Armstrong’s note to Laura – is an authentic signature by the late astronaut.
“This is a huge adventure that we’re going on… We’re very quiet people and the main thing is that I have ownership to it,” Cicco told reporters.