Looks like one of NASA‘s latest priorities is to protect its lunar heritage from illegal black market trade of moon artifacts, evident in a recently highly publicized case in which a 74 year old grandmother attempting to sell a moon rock was intercepted by armed government officials.
Part of an elaborate operation, federal agents tracked down Joanna Davis at a Denny’s dinner, after which she was taken into custody along with a speck of lunar dust smaller than a grain of rice, as well as a nickel-sized piece of the heat shield that protected the Apollo 11 space capsule.
According to the elderly woman, both artifacts were given as a gift to her late husband, who used to work as an engineer for North American Rockwell (they had contracts with NASA during the Apollo era), by Neil Armstrong himself, allegedly. Apparently, she was trying to self them off to pay for her sick son’s expenses.
Although space rocks and other memorabilia have been offered as a gift by the US government to various institutions, countries and high ranking individuals, these too still remain in the property of the US. The selling of such objects for profit is considered a serious infraction, and as such the US government is trying to get ahold of anyone attempting such a deed. I, for one, am curious if NASA is specking all the lunar rock frauds down on eBay.
“It’s a very upsetting thing,” Davis told The Associated Press. “It’s very detrimental, very humiliating, all of it a lie.”
If this story wasn’t humorous enough, the granny decided to contact NASA officials for tips on how to sell it, back in May 10th, which eventually tipped them off. According to a NASA official, Davis was fully aware that the artifacts she had in her custody not too long ago were illegal to trade on the open market, since she mentioned several times the term “black market” in conversations. Curiously, though, Davis agreed to sell the sample to NASA for a stellar $1.7 million. Well, little did she knew.
In a previous statement, Neil Armstrong claimed that he never gave out any kind of lunar samples or Apollo missions remnants to any individual. NASA refused to provide any details on the matter, and no charges were filled against Davis.
This reminds me, you guys remember how some NASA interns stole a few hundred pounds of moon rocks and then arranged them on a bed, on which they later had sex? Yes, this is all 100% true. Adrenaline beats comfort, I guess.