17:17 GMT26 February 2020
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    A preemptive lawsuit has been brought against the space agency to keep it away from a vial of what she calls moon dust. NASA has made attempts to seize lunar gifts in the past, saying they are illegal for private citizens to own.

    Laura Murray Cicco of Manchester, Tennessee filed a preemptive lawsuit against NASA on June 6, claiming her right to own a small vial of moon dust she received from Neil Armstrong, the legendary American astronaut.

    According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the woman has asked a US District Court in Kansas to rule that she is "the rightful and legal owner" of the dust.

    The court documents state that Neil Armstrong, who was friends with her father, gave her the gift when he was teaching at the University of Cincinnati, where Cicco lived as a child. The astronaut wrote a note saying "To Laura Ann Murray - Best of luck - Neal Armstrong Apollo 11." Cicco said in the lawsuit that the signature had been verified and the moon dust tested.

    READ MORE: Astronauts' Moonwalks Increased Lunar Surface Temperature - Study

    The woman claims there is no law banning people from owning such material, challenging NASA's declaration that lunar samples are the property of the US Government. NASA said in 2011 court documents that "private citizens cannot own lunar material," after it conducted a sting operation against Joann Davis, widow of an Apollo 11 engineer, who had attempted to sell a paperweight with moon dust.

    Back then, Davis also sued the space agency, accusing it of unlawful search and seizure. She later reached a $100,000 settlement with the government.

    READ MORE: NASA Releases Footage from Hundreds of Secret, Experimental Projects (VIDEOS)

    Neil Armstrong was the commander of the historic Apollo 11 mission. The mission successfully accomplished the US' national goal of landing a man on the moon and is considered to be among the most momentous events in the Space Race between the US and the Soviet Union.

    lawsuit, NASA, Neil Armstrong, Tennessee, Moon
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