It’s been a long, strange trip for what appears to be several tiny chips of lunar rock that found their way into a casino mogul’s hands after being collected by the first men on the moon.
If they’re real, they were plucked from the lunar surface by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, given by then-President Richard Nixon to former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Garcia, pilfered by a Costa Rican mercenary soldier-turned Contra rebel, traded to a Baptist missionary for unknown items, then sold to a flamboyant Las Vegas casino mogul who squirreled them away in in a safety deposit box.
Now, more than 2½ years after Bob Stupak’s death, an attorney for his estate has sent to NASA officials in Houston a tabletop display featuring the four gray chips the size of grains of rice.
They’re magnified in a Lucite dome about as big around as a U.S. 50-cent piece set with a small blue and white Nicaraguan flag.
Combined, the chips weigh 0.05 grams.
A NASA spokeswoman, Renee Juhans, confirmed Tuesday that the agency was “taking steps to authenticate” the display it received from attorney Richard Wright. Juhans declined to say what would happen after that. …