Houston, Texas | A cleaning technician working for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is accused of stealing 3845 grams of moon dust and 735 grams of moon rocks which he allegedly snorted or smoked as drugs.
57-year old Harold Armstrong was arrested this morning by deputies of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office after a two-year investigation.
Hundreds of samples collected during the Apollo missions were reported stolen by NASA from the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility at the Johnson Space Center, mostly lunar mineral samples but also a few meteoric samples.
According to the Sheriff’s office spokesman, James Goodwyn, investigators first thought the samples were stolen for sponsors or to be sold for profit on the black market.
“We really thought that stuff was useless but rare, so we were looking for some crime lord who collected space missions memorabilia or something, but we couldn’t find anything.”
After almost two years of fruitless investigation, deputies learned from a NASA employee that moon dust could possibly be used as a narcotic, as it naturally contains large amounts of various types of mineral stimulants called cathinones, which are similar to amphetamines.
These stimulants increase levels of dopamine, a brain chemical that can create feelings of euphoria and cause uncontrollable cravings for strange foods.
“We placed deputies in the various cafeterias and found a guy eating a sandwich filled with marshmallows, Cheetos and dill pickles. We immediately knew we had our guy.”
While executing their various search warrants this morning, deputies found some stolen lunar samples in his residence, car and worksite locker. They also seized 3,4 grams of moon rock on his person as well as a pipe containing burnt moon rock residues.
During his interrogation, he admitted to stealing over 3,500 lunar samples and using them as drugs.
Mr. Armstrong faces an impressive total of 3,814 charges of grand larceny and 42 charges of possessing stolen property since each stolen sample had a market value of over $5,000.
If found guilty on all charges, he faces a total of 16,385 years in prison and a fine of $27,627,500$, both of which would set new state records in Texas.
According to a brief NASA communiqué released this morning, Mr. Armstrong committed a “horrible crime against science” by destroying more than 10% of the world’s available lunar samples.