NASA says the cockroaches and Apollo 11 moon dust being sold at a Boston auction for $400,000 belong to the agency and are not for sale

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  • Remarkable Rarities auctioned off cockroaches and moon dust collected during an Apollo 11 mission in 1969, per The AP.

  • The auctioned materials were used in an experiment to determine if lunar rocks contained any pathogens that could threaten terrestrial life.

  • NASA's lawyer argued that the materials are not theirs to sell and belonged to the federal government.

NASA has halted the sale of moon dust and cockroach carcasses, which were collected during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, at a Boston-based Remarkable Rarities Auction.

According to the auction site, the cockroaches and moon dust were used in an Apollo 11 experiment to determine if lunar rocks contained any sort of pathogen that could threaten terrestrial life.

The three German cockroach carcasses and 40 milligrams of moon dust were auctioned on May 25 this year and reached $400,000. In a letter to the Remarkable Rarities, NASA's lawyer stated that all materials from the experiment were federal property, The Associated Press reported.

"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," NASA said in a letter dated June 15, per The AP.

Remarkable Rarities had withdrawn the auction on Thursday. However, the space material has not been returned to NASA yet. In a letter dated June 22, provided to the AP, Nasa's lawyer asked RR Auction to work with the current owner to return the material.

"We have worked with NASA before and have always cooperated with the U.S. government when they lay claims to items," Mark Zaid, an attorney for RR Auction, told The AP. "At the end of the day, we want to act appropriately and lawfully."

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