In what can be called a boomerang move, NASA wants several Apollo 11 mission items returned to Boston-based auction house RR Auction of New Hampshire. These items include rare moon dust that Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin Aldrin procured after their trip to the moon in 1969. In addition to the moon dust collected during the Apollo 11 mission are cockroach carcasses fed to the lunar material in an experiment to determine if the lunar rock contained any pathogen that threatened terrestrial life.
The materials from the experiment- 40 milligrams of moon dust and three cockroach carcasses- have been called the federal government’s property as per the NASA lawyer. The items were expected to fetch roughly $400,000. The Guardian shared, “All Apollo samples, as stipulated in this collection of items, belong to NASA, and no person, university, or other entity has ever been given permission to keep them after analysis, destruction, or other use for any purpose, especially for sale or individual display,” said NASA’s letter dated 15 June.
It went on: “We are requesting that you no longer facilitate the sale of any and all items containing the Apollo 11 Lunar Soil Experiment (the cockroaches, slides, and post-destructive testing specimen) by immediately stopping the bidding process,” NASA wrote.