Astronauts can now Own a Piece of Space History LegallySpace: the Final Frontier. As great as it is, there hasn't really been a reason to leave the planet and go pick stuff up. Why not? Because according to US law, anything returned from space by a US astronaut belongs to the government.
Ed White was the first American to perform a spacewalk.
Well, not anymore. Another law just passed that lets the astronauts of the future bring things back--and hold on to them.
President Obama just signed in a bill that makes it legal for NASA astronauts to keep memorabilia from their trips, something that I'm sure plenty would have loved to do. While this doesn't apply to moon rocks, or anything that the astronauts were required to return, it does make it so that NASA can't reclaim the many artifacts in private collections right now. Also of note: this only applies to astronauts who were training during the early years of NASA, from Mercury to Apollo-Soyuz.
Mostly this applies to things made by NASA but that had been discarded. Some astronauts have become interested in auctioning off their priceless artifacts, to find out whether they really are so priceless after all.
NASA has several times brought ex-NASA personnel into a lawsuit in an attempt to either block the sale of an artifact, or reclaim it. For example, in 2011 NASA filed suit against Edgar Mitchell. Mitchell had taken a camera from Apollo 14. When he tried to sell it, NASA claimed that it was their property, and took him to court to reclaim it. Another time, it went after the sale of a notebook part of the Apollo 11 mission.
NASA, for its part, is taking this new law with its dignity intact. The agency was quoted as saying that it :
pleased ownership of flight mementos and other artifacts of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts is no longer in question.