Houston, we have a problem—with that astronaut’s bag you auctioned off.
According to the Associated Press, a bag which was used on the Apollo 11 mission, and which carried the first lunar sample, was mistakenly sold at auction last year. And now it’s at the center of a legal dispute, after the owner sent the bag to NASA for verification and the space agency refused to give it back.
The circular white bag was sold at government auction in February of 2015 for $995, to collector Nancy Carlson of Inverness, Illinois. But it wasn’t the bag that was supposed to be sold. Due to an inventory number mix-up, the Apollo 11 bag was confused with a similar bag from the Apollo 17 mission which flew in the lander, but was never taken out. The Apollo 11 bag is special due to its significance to the original mission, and because its fibers are said to be laced with lunar dust.
NASA didn’t become aware of the mix-up until Carlson sent the bag in for authentication. Once it was back in the hands of the space agency, NASA decided that is where it belonged, and now they won’t give it back, instead offering Carlson a refund, which she declined, before later suing NASA for the bag’s return.
But NASA is now asking a judge to rescind the purchase, leaving it up to a jurist to decide who might ultimately be holding the bag.