That time NASA accidentally sold a piece of irreplaceable Apollo history for less than $1,000

Contributed by
Aug 16, 2016

As far as space geeks go, Illinois native Nancy Carlson was probably the luckiest one on the planet — at least until NASA detained her legally purchased Apollo relic and she had to sue to (maybe) get it back.

It’s not uncommon for random oddities from space history to go up for auction, and there’s certainly a large public appetite to snag those goodies when they hit the auction block. That was the case with a used collection bag sold at a government auction on Feb. 15, 2015, for $995. Carlson bought it, and it turns out that collection bag literally carried the first lunar rock samples back to Earth on Apollo 11 in July 1969 — and still has ultra-rare Moon dust embedded in its fibers. Oops.

Carlson wanted to ensure her purchase was legit, so she sent it off to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for authentication, according to the Associated Press. It was at that point NASA realized the bag (which was not supposed to be sold and is essentially a national treasure) had accidentally been sold. Once NASA figured out what happened, they refused to give the bag back. Instead, they offered to pay her back the $995 with a couple extra bucks for her trouble. Which doesn’t sound too bad, until you realize the artifact is probably worth anywhere from $20,000-$40,000.

So, Carlson has sued the space agency, since she did purchase the bag legally (from the government, no less). SHe’s fighting to get her bag back, while government attorney’s want to rescind the sale and refund her money. So, the battle rages on.

What’s your take on the debacle? Fair is fair since it was sold, or does the bag deserve to be under government control in a museum?

(Via The Associated Press)

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