It was one of the biggest moments in history. The Apollo 11 mission of 1969 brought man to the moon. There were also a few things that came back with the astronauts. While there, Neil Armstrong collected some moon dust and placed it in a bag. NASA forgot about it and accidentally auctioned it off for $995. Nancy Carlson bought it, and had it analyzed. Now NASA wants it back. But that will cost them a tidy sum – $4 million.
Carlson, a Chicago attorney, was certain the bag had real moon dust, so she sent it back to NASA to have it tested, knowing official verification would turn her bag of dust into a fortune. Carlson was right.
NASA confirmed that it was real moon dust, and then refused to give it back, saying they had made a mistake by selling it so cheap. Carlson went to court over the matter and won. Now she is auctioning it off, and it is expected to draw about $4 million.
How Carlson came to possess the celestial souvenir in the first place is a space odyssey in its own right. Previously, the government had seized the bag in a criminal case against Max Ary, the former president of a space museum in Kansas. He was convicted in 2006 of theft for selling objects from the museum, court records show.
While investigating Ary, authorities learned the moon bag had been auctioned off for $24,150 and seized it from its purchaser. But because of a mix-up with another bag that did not contain moon dust, no NASA official at the time was aware of the historical importance of the artifact.
The initial auction asked for a beginning offer of at least $20,000, but nobody bid on it. When Carlson, a corporate attorney and avid collector of space objects, saw the bag at auction again in 2015, she was the high bidder. She then sent the bag to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, where its contents were verified.
Over time, the U.S. government has given away about 270 moon rocks to foreign dignitaries. Never have they sold any lunar objects.
Carlson did what many others could have done. She saw a value in that bag of dust that others simply missed, including the scientists at NASA. Then she bought it. Now she has a real prize, which is about to be turned into more money than she will need for the rest of her life.
Jesus told a similar story one day. He told of a man who found a rare treasure, then sold all he had to secure it. His point was simple. When we find that which brings us peace and security, for this life and the one to come, there is no price too high. We need to go all in.
Like the people at NASA, we often don’t recognize what is right before us. God has provided peace and eternal blessing through his Son, Jesus Christ. The next move is ours and it’s a simple one. We must be willing to give up that which we cannot keep anyway, in order to secure that which we will never lose.
But unlike the moon dust, God’s gift has already been paid for. And because we have an Advocate in Christ Jesus, no attorneys need to be involved.