NASA scientists, accompanied by fully-armed federal agents, stormed a Denny’s restaurant in Southern California to confiscate a moon rock smaller than a grain of rice from 72-year-old grandmother Joann Davis. Ms. Davis holds that she is the legitimate owner of the speck of lunar dust because it was given to her by Neil Armstrong in the 1970s. She recently decided to sell the moon souvenir to help pay for quickly rising medical costs for her terminally ill son. She contacted a NASA contractor with details, hoping to sell the virtually microscopic speck of lunar material for a staggering $1.7 million. Unfortunately for Davis, the contractor contacted authorities, leading to the sting at the Denny’s restaurant where she thought she was meeting to do the deal.
NASA has long gone after people trying to sell stuff like this, citing it as government property that cannot be sold for profit. However, Joann Davis has cast doubt on their tactics, upset by federal agents armed as if they were on a warrant drug raid instead of a sting to catch an old lady trying to salvage some value from a keepsake to save her dying son. Since the moon landings, the United States has entrusted many moon surface samples to different nations, museums, and other such organizations under the understanding that the lunar material is always on loan and will continually be the property of the U.S. government. NASA actually has an inspector whose sole function is to monitor and see to the arrest of any individuals seeking to sell “national treasures.”
As of now, no charges have been filed against Ms. Davis, although NASA contends that there is still a right to do so.
The real question here is that if NASA and the government feel so strongly that these materials should be kept under wraps, then why did Neil Armstrong and other astronauts and NASA representatives go about the country giving them out as souvenirs. Surely this could, and should, have been controlled more effectively. One could make the accusation that the supposed moon rocks are either fake or acquired by criminal means, but does anyone buy that Joann Davis somehow burglarized NASA facilities to steal a moon rock? And if the rock were fake, then why did federal agents storm a Denny’s in Southern California for the sole purpose of getting it back.
If stuff like this is so controlled, then why in the hell don’t they control it? Food for thought.