A former Kansas resident who apparently received moon dust from famous astronaut Neil Armstrong filed a federal lawsuit against National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to prevent the space agency from taking the dust away from her.
Laura Murray Cicco filed a complaint in federal court in Kansas last week asking that the court declare her rightful ownership over what she said is moon dust - so that it can't be seized by NASA.
While NASA has not made any efforts to confiscate Cicco's property, the space agency's longstanding position is that all lunar material belongs to the nation.
A NASA spokesman released a statement: “Since the issue has gone to court it wouldn’t be appropriate for NASA to discuss details related to the claim just yet.”
Several months before filing her lawsuit, Cicco called her attorney and asked him what she could do to ensure that she remains the rightful owner of the alleged moon dust, her lawyer Christopher McHugh told ABC News.
McHugh and Cicco then worked on authenticating the moon dust and Armstrong's signature on the back of her father's business card before lodging the complaints.
The lunar material was tested, and it showed that the vial contained some celestial material, McHugh said.
Laura's father, Tom Murray, a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II (WWII), relocated with his family from Kansas to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1969 or 1970, according to the court records.
At the time, Armstrong was teaching in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati.
"When Laura was about 10 years old, her mother gave her a glass vial with a rubber stopper full of light grey dust, and one of her father’s business cards," according to the lawsuit.
“There is no law against private persons owning lunar material," Cicco's lawsuit asserts. "Lunar material is not contraband. It is not illegal to own or possess" - and adds that “she is the rightful and legal owner of the vial and its contents.”
Armstrong's inscription on the back of the business card reads, “To Laura Ann Murray – Best of Luck – Neil Armstrong Apollo 11,” according to exhibits submitted as part of the federal complaint.
The alleged moon dust, which remains in the transparent glass beaker about the size of a small finger is being kept in a secure location in Kansas, according to McHugh.
The attorney said that he has seen cases against NASA over material from other planets, but this is the first case he is aware of concerning ownership of moon dust.
“Our goal is to get the court to make the decision as soon as possible,” he told ABC News. “It is the right thing to do.”
Asked for his personal opinion of the celestial matter, McHugh said, "It's very cool."