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Woman Sues NASA Over Keeping Moon Dust Gifted to Her by Neil Armstrong

Woman sues NASA over piece of moon gifted by Armstrong

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Kepler, NASA, tissue
NASA to use Blockchain technology for air traffic management. Pixabay

A woman has sued NASA to make sure that the US space agency doesn’t take back a piece of moon gifted to her by Neil Armstrong — the first person to walk on the lunar surface.

Laura Cicco from Cincinnati has filed a lawsuit in a federal court, stating that the vial of moon dust she has was a gift from Armstrong who was a friend of her father, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

Cicco’s father Tom Murray, who was a pilot with the US Army, spent a lot of time together with Armstrong.

Sometime in the 1970s, the US astronaut gave the vial of moon dust along with a handwritten note to Murray’s little girl when she was 10.

Cicco has now sued NASA because the space agency has “a history of seizing suspected lunar material from private citizens”, her attorney was quoted as saying.

Woman Sues NASA Over Keeping Moon Dust Gifted to Her by Neil Armstrong
Moon, Pixabay

“There’s no law prohibiting private citizens from owning materials from the moon and Cicco is the rightful and legal owner of the moon dust,” the report said, quoting the attorney.

The vial of dust that Cicco has, was analysed by scientists who said it was “likely” a sample of the lunar surface.

Cicco’s lawsuit cited another case where NASA seized lunar mementoes from an elderly California woman which was gifted to her by her late husband and an Apollo programme engineer.

Reacting to the lawsuit, a NASA spokesperson said it would be “inappropriate” for the space agency to comment.

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In July 1969, Armstrong and Apollo 11 Lunar Module pilot Buzz Aldrin performed the first manned moon landing and spent two-and-a-half hours outside the spacecraft while Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit in the command module.

When Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface, he said: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” (IANS)

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Israel’s Private Spacecraft to Shoot For Moon

Israeli private spacecraft shoots for Moon

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Lunar eclipse, Moon
Earth starts to cast its shadow on the moon during a complete lunar eclipse seen from Jakarta, Indonesia, Aug. 28, 2018. VOA

Aiming to become the fourth country to make a soft landing on the Moon, Israel’s non-profit SpaceIL has announced it will launch a spacecraft from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Thursday on board a Falcon 9 rocket.

The unmanned craft, weighing 1,300 pounds and standing approximately five feet tall, will then begin an about seven-week journey to the Moon, from where it will send back images of the rocky surface and conduct experiments on the lunar magnetic field.

The spacecraft is called “Beresheet,” a reference to the first words of the Bible in Hebrew: “In the beginning…”

For decades, the Moon was the exclusive domain of the superpowers. The Soviet Union landed Luna 2 on the Earth’s nearest neighbour in 1959. Three years later, the US landed Ranger 4 on the Moon.

These were “hard landings,” meaning the craft crashed into the Moon. The first “soft landings” for both countries came in 1966, when spacecraft made controlled descents to the lunar surface.

It would take nearly another 50 years for a third country to perform a soft Moon landing, when China’s Chang’e 3 did it in 2013.

If Israel’s spacecraft venture proceeds as planned, it would become the fourth — and by far the smallest — country to do so. It would also become the first private enterprise to make a controlled landing on the Moon, with the smallest spacecraft to do it, and by far the least expensive mission.

The total cost of the programme, raised from private donations, is $100 million, a small fraction of the billions of dollars invested in the US space program.

The moon is seen near the Illimani mountain during a full lunar eclipse in La Paz, Bolivia, July 27, 2018. Photo: Reuters.

“This mission that we were talking about was really a mission impossible,” said entrepreneur Morris Kahn, who donated $40 million to the project.

“The only thing is I didn’t realize it was impossible, and the three engineers that started this project didn’t think it was impossible, and the way Israel thinks, nothing is impossible… We are really making this dream come true,” Kahn added.

SpaceIL was founded eight years ago to compete in the Google Lunar X Prize, an international competition to see whether a private enterprise could land a spacecraft on the moon, move 500 meters in any direction, and transmit live, high-definition video from the lunar surface.

The competition was canceled in January 2018 when none of the five teams left in the competition was able to meet the March deadline for a launch.

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But some of the teams persisted, determined to land on the Moon even without the incentive of $30 million in prize money.

SpaceIL pressed on, signing with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to launch their craft to the Moon on board a Falcon 9 rocket, which is scheduled for launch on February 21.

Beresheet will travel approximately 4 million miles on its journey, circling the earth multiple times to gain speed before it slingshots towards the moon. It is scheduled to land on April 11. (IANS)