NASA’s SWAT team successfully nabs a 4-foot-11, 73 year old lady trying to sell a piece of moon in order to raise money for her sick son.
A PIECE OF MOON-ROCKS HISTORY
The moon is too far away and we are too poor to ever be able to land there again. So, there is quite limited supply of the lunar material available. In total, NASA's Apollo missions from 1969 to 1972 managed to bring down some 2,200 samples of lunar rocks, pebbles, sand and dust weighing about 840 pounds. That’s it, the grand total of lunar material on our little blue-green planet. If China, Brazil, Russia or any of the so-called “developing” nations does not land something up there, that is all we will have for quite a long time.
A PIECE OF MOON-ROCKS LEGAL STATUS
Have you ever thought about owning a piece of moon? Well, you can’t! NASA has given many lunar samples to different nations, states and even individual politicians and celebrities. Those gifts were made on the understanding that any lunar material remains government property. It is job of NASA's inspector general to arrest anyone trying to sell it.
HOW WE TOOK CARE OF MOON-ROCKS
According to Joseph Gutheinz, a University of Phoenix instructor and former NASA investigator, NASA did not always take good care of lunar material. Sometimes, space suits were just hosed off and any moon dust on them just washed away.
Even more worrying, a recent review proved that 10 states and more than 90 countries can not account for their share of lunar material. I somehow doubt that it all went back to the moon.
ENTER THE GRANNY
Joann Davis, a grandmother who says she was trying to raise money for her sick son, owned a piece of lunar material given to her late husband by Neil Armstrong himself in the 1970s. Her husband worked as an engineer for North American Rockwell, a NASA contractor during the Apollo era. Among other space heirlooms her husband left her when he died were a small piece of the Apollo 11 space capsule heat shield and a speck of moon rock encased in an acrylic dome.
THOU SHALL NOT SELL NATIONAL TREASURE
Granny Davis obviously didn’t know how to go about selling this space heirlooms so she contacted (who else) another NASA contractor to see if they could help her in the sale of these items. For some strange reason, instead of simply knocking on her door and taking the moon-rock away or even just telling her that she can’t sell those rocks, big Government agency decided to make an example of this old lady.
NASA representatives agreed to buy this moon-rock for an incredible price of $1.7 million. The meeting was agreed at Denny's restaurant at Lake Elsinore in Riverside County. While this restaurant probably saw a lot, it had never witnessed what happened next. As soon as granny Davis showed the moon sample, half a dozen sheriff's deputies and NASA investigators wearing bulletproof vests rushed in. When they took a hold of her, she was so scared she lost control of her bladder and in that condition was questioned and detained for two hours outside at nearby parking lot.
After all this ruff manhandling that left deep bruises on her left side, Davis was allowed to go home (without the moon-rock though) and was never booked into a police station or charged.
In the end, who knows how will all this end. Davis's attorney, Peter Schlueter, is planning a legal action. He stated that all this was “abhorrent behavior by the federal government to steal something from a retiree that was given to her.”
I strongly agree that moon materials should remain government property. However, justifying the existence of so expensive government’s agencies by organizing a sting operation against a 73 year old lady really seems too much.