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Culture > News

A Woman Is Suing NASA To Keep Moon Dust that She Claims Neil Armstrong Gave Her

Who actually owns property from the moon? That’s the question being after a woman from Tennessee named Laura Murray Cicco filed a federal court case against NASA. According to Inverse, the move is a preemptive effort to ensure that she has the rights to a vial of moon dust (yes, moon dust) that she claims was given to her by Neil Armstrong (yes, that Neil Armstrong).

And before you dismiss Cicco as a fraud, there’s actually some evidence backing her up. According to The Washington Post, Cicco’s mother gave her the vial when she was 10 years old, along with a signed note from Armstrong himself that read, “To Laura Ann Murray — Best of Luck — Neil Armstrong Apollo 11.” Cicco says she didn’t find the vial again until five years ago, which, like, what? How do you lose space dust?


A spectrum of blue paints the perfect backdrop for the Moon in this image taken by NASA astronaut Scott Tingle. From the vantage point of the International Space Station (@iss), the floating grey orb stands out from the darkness of space. Tingle posted this image to social media with an appropriate caption of, “Wow!”. Currently, three people are living and working on the space station, conducting important research that will benefit life on Earth, and help us send humans deeper into the solar system than ever before. The crew will grow to six members with the launch of the next trio later this month. Credit: NASA/@Astro_Maker #nasa #space #moon #spacestation #research #blue #spectrum #pictureoftheday #science #solarsystem #universe #wow #beautiful

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Anyway, a handwriting expert has reportedly found Armstrong’s note to be authentic, and while tests of the dust sample came back with mixed results, The Washington Post notes that the court documents don’t rule out the possibility of “lunar origin.”

Cicco claims that Armstrong gave the moon dust to her because he was friends with her father, pilot Tom Murray. Both men, she says, were part of a pilot club known as the Quiet Birdmen.

But while the note, the scientific tests, and Cicco’s father’s relationship with Armstrong all corroborate her claim that the moon dust is real, the bigger problem is whether or not Cicco is actually allowed to keep it.

While Inverse noted that the 2007 NASA Lunar Sample Allocation Guidebook classifies lunar samples as government property, NASA has a history of seizing lunar samples, even going so far as to set up a sting operation against a woman who was selling a lunar sample (no, I’m not kidding). The Register also pointed out that in 2012, President Obama passed a law that allowed astronauts the rights to collect and keep artifacts from space.

It looks like NASA’s got a tough case ahead of them. I can’t wait to watch all of this unfold—but first, I’m going to lament the fact that none of my parents’ friends have ever given me a present from space, because that would’ve made me the coolest 10-year-old ever.

Erica Kam is the Life Editor at Her Campus. She oversees the life, career, and news verticals on the site, including academics, experience, high school, money, work, and Her20s coverage. Over her six years at Her Campus, Erica has served in various editorial roles on the national team, including as the previous Culture Editor and as an editorial intern. She has also interned at Bustle Digital Group, where she covered entertainment news for Bustle and Elite Daily. She graduated in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing from Barnard College, where she was the senior editor of Columbia and Barnard’s Her Campus chapter and a deputy copy editor for The Columbia Spectator. When she's not writing or editing, you can find her dissecting K-pop music videos for easter eggs and rereading Jane Austen novels. She also loves exploring her home, the best city in the world — and if you think that's not NYC, she's willing to fight you on it.