NASA Apollo 11

While NASA was able to put a man on the moon and send a rover to Mars, when it comes to safeguarding a priceless artifact from the Apollo 11 mission, they tend to let it slip through their fingers and end up being sold to the highest bidder. Though it might not be all NASA’s fault, just how did an item from the Apollo 11 mission end up being auctioned off? Through a mixture of greed, negligence, and a little dash of luck.

In 1969, the world watched in amazement as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to ever walk on the moon. The small gesture of setting a foot on the moon wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the years of dedication and sacrifice. While exploring the moon was historic, Aldrin and Armstrong were given specific tasks to carry out during their trip. One task was to take as many samples as they could fit in their lunar bags.

Fast forward several years after returning to Earth, one of the lunar bags was loaned out for a new exhibit being presented by the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. It just so happened that the director of the space center, Max Ary, had a knack for stealing items from the exhibits. One item found in his collection was the lunar bag from the Apollo 11 mission, but authorities thought the bag was from a different mission. The reason why, was Ary had sold a similar bag from the Apollo 17 in 2001. After recovering both bags, investigators mistakenly thought the Apollo 11 bag was from Apollo 17 since, due to a clerical error, both bags had the same ID Number.

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Not knowing its true identity, the lunar bag was placed up for auction and sold to Nancy Carlson for $995. Excited about her recent purchase, Nancy wanted to make sure what she bought had really been on the moon and that she wasn’t being lied too. Knowing experts would be able to verify its authenticity, Nancy sent the bag to NASA. She never imagined that they would steal it back.

After receiving the lunar bag, it didn’t take long for experts to realize the mistake that both investigators and NASA had made. This led experts to come to the decision that it was in NASA’s best interest if the bag not be returned. Although Nancy bought the artifact from an auction, NASA is claiming that the bag is of historical value and therefore priceless.

While standing by their decision to keep the lunar bag, Nancy has recently filed a lawsuit against NASA for not returning the item she claims is rightfully hers. NASA hopes the judge will side in their favor and order them to refund the purchase amount, allowing them to keep this one of a kind item, that they call a national treasure.

Do you think the artifact should be returned to the buyer, or did NASA make the right decision? Be sure to tell us what you think in the comment section below.

Article by Chris Piner

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