Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Judge: Mistakenly Sold Apollo 11 Moon Mission Bag Is Buyer's

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Judge: Mistakenly Sold Apollo 11 Moon Mission Bag Is Buyer's

Article excerpt

WICHITA, Kan. * A bag used to collect lunar samples during the first manned mission to the moon legally belongs to an Illinois woman who bought it for $995 when it was mistakenly sold during a government auction, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Judge J. Thomas Marten, of the U.S. District Court in Wichita, said he didn't have the authority to reverse the sale of the bag used during the Apollo 11 moon mission in July 1969, even though it shouldn't have gone up for auction.

The white bag, which has lunar material embedded in its fabric and which the government considers "a rare artifact, if not a national treasure," was mistakenly sold as part of a criminal case against Max Ary, the former director of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, a museum in Hutchinson. Ary was convicted in November 2005 of stealing and selling museum artifacts, including some that were on loan from NASA.

Investigators found the Apollo 11 lunar bag in 2003 during a search of Ary's garage. The government contends that due to a mix up in inventory lists and item numbers, the bag was mistakenly thought to be a different bag that the government recovered. …

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