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NASA has Alaska moon rocks as court sorts out ownership

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

Alaska’s historic moon rocks, missing for decades, are back in NASA’s possession, according to the Juneau Empire.

The historic moon rocks belong in an Alaska museum, said Alaska State Museum Curator Bob Banghart. They were a gift to Alaska by President Richard Nixon after Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. In 1973, the rocks were in the Alaska Transportation Museum in Anchorage when the museum burned; the rocks went missing.

The tiny rocks, encased in plastic, were distributed to every state. The display plaque included a small Alaska flag that had also been to the moon.

Alaska Assistant Attorney General Neil Slotnick recently presented a summary of the case to the state Board of Education recently. He said the story begins with Coleman Anderson, who sued the state, claiming that he owned the rocks and seeking to be declared the rightful owner. Alaska disagrees.

“He claimed that after the fire he found the plaque in the rubble and debris at the museum site, and that he saved it from destruction,” Slotnick said.

Whether that account holds sway with the court will be decided later, but Slotnick said the state was successful in getting a court order to force Anderson to turn the moon rocks over to NASA for verification and safekeeping until the legal system sorts out ownership.

Read more, here.