A moon bag used by the NASA Apollo 11 mission was sold off by mistake. Now the artifact is being disputed by the former director of Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Max Ary.
Officials dubbed the bag “a rare artifact, a national treasure even.” Prosecutors are trying to recover a white lunar bag that was used on the Apollo 11 lunar landing. The bag was one of the items mistakenly sold at a government auction in 2015. A criminal investigation against Max Ary, former director of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space center, is under way.
Thirty-seven years ago, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first people to set foot on the moon. They used the so-called lunar bag to take the first samples from lunar rock.
In 2005, Ary was convicted for the unauthorized selling of space artifacts, which he stole from NASA. Investigators discovered the moon bag during a search of his garage, back in 2003.
After 10 years, the bag was sold through a government auction to an Illinois inhabitant, Nancy Carlson. She got the bag for just under one thousand dollars and later asked NASA to prove its authenticity it.
Once NASA got hold of the bag, kept it. They did not know about the government auction apparently. In June, Carlson sued NASA over the bag.
Prosecutors have asked the judge to void the sale and refund Carlson.
All the confusion started because there were, in fact, two lunar bags, with the same identification code. One was used in 1969, the other was used in the 1972 moon mission. In 2001, Ary placed the second bag for auction, for more than twenty thousand dollars. Investigators eventually recovered the two bags.
Ary was jailed for three years in 2006 and he paid over 130,000 dollars in restitution. He was released for good behavior in 2010, after serving around seventy percent of the sentence.
He has always pleaded innocent, as he claimed that he mixed up museum artifacts with items from his own collection.
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