Sure, it’s easy to misplace your stapler, but what about a tiny piece of transparent tape covered in moon dust brought back with the Apollo 11 astronauts!?
Apparently the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) did just that, over forty years ago, when the tape was stolen.
Fortunately, the moon tape was recovered this week by the Regency-Superior auction house in St. Louis when a woman tried to sell it.
She explained that her late husband had brought her the moon tape back in 2001. Upon hearing the history of the missing tape, the woman immediately returned it to the United States Attorney’s Office.
“It wasn’t much to look at, but I will never be that close to the moon again,” Richard G. Callahan, the United States attorney, said in a statement.
David M. Kols, the president of Regency-Superior auction admits he knew selling moon rocks was illegal but claims he did not realize that law extended to moon dust stuck to tape.
The item was promptly snatched from auction to which Kols said, “I’ve never seen the government move so fast.”
The moon tape was created when photographer Terry Slezak, then photographer in charge of processing film from the moon, opened one of the containers only to find lunar dust all over his lap. He promptly stuck the moon dust to some tape.
When he was later presented with a collage of photos from the moon signed by the Apollo 11 astronauts he said, “I added the little piece of Scotch tape with the moon dust on it. I thought that would be kind of neat.”
The posterboard was later sold at auction in 2001 along with the dusty tape where the collector (illegally) cut the tape up and sold the pieces to a number of unknown purchasers.
Forty years after the astronauts landed, (at least some of) the moon tape has been safely returned to NASA.