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NASA wants its moon dust, cockroaches from Apollo 11 mission pulled from auction

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(RR Auction)BOSTON - NASA wants its moon dust and cockroaches back.The space agency has asked Boston-based RR Auction to halt the sale of moon dust collected during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission that had subsequently been fed to cockroaches during an experiment to determine if the lunar rock contained any sort of pathogen that posed a threat to terrestrial life.The material, a NASA lawyer said in a letter to the auctioneer, still belongs to the federal government.The material from the experiment, including a vial with about 40 milligrams of moon dust and three cockroach carcasses, was expected to sell for at least $400,000, but has been pulled from the auction block, RR said Thursday."All Apollo samples, as stipulated in this collection of items, belong to NASA and no person, university, or other entity has ever been given permission to keep them after analysis, destruction, or other use for any purpose, especially for sale or individual display," said NASA's letter dated June 15.It went on: "We are requesting that you no longer facilitate the sale of any and all items containing the Apollo 11 Lunar Soil Experiment (the cockroaches, slides, and post-destructive testing specimen) by immediately stopping the bidding process," NASA wrote.In another letter dated June 22, NASA's lawyer asked RR Auction to work with the current owner of the material to return it to the federal government.The Apollo 11 mission brought more than 47 pounds (21.3 kilograms) of lunar rock back to Earth.

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