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She fought NASA and won. Now, she gets her bag of dust back

A bag of moon dust collected during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 was mistakenly sold as part of a criminal case against Max Ary, the founder and former director of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson.
A bag of moon dust collected during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 was mistakenly sold as part of a criminal case against Max Ary, the founder and former director of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson. Courtesy photo

A bag with moon dust samples from the first manned lunar mission was returned to a woman who bought it in an auction, according to news reports.

The bag used during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 was mistakenly sold as part of a criminal case against Max Ary, the founder and former director of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson.

Ary was convicted of stealing and selling museum artifacts in 2005. After a protracted legal battle, he served a little more than two years of a three-year sentence and was released from a federal prison in Oklahoma in 2010.

An Illinois woman bought the bag of lunar dust for $995 at a government auction. NASA learned that the bag had been sold without its knowledge after she sent it to the Johnson Space Center to see whether it was actually from the moon. NASA held on to it, prompting a legal battle between the woman, Nancy Carlson, and the space agency.

A U.S. District Court judge in Wichita ruled in December he couldn’t undo the bag’s sale. But it was up to a judge in Texas to oversee the enforcement of the order, which was ruled on late last week.

Contributing: Associated Press

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar

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