Former Space Museum Director Gets Three Years in Prison for Theft

MaxAry, former Kansas Cosmosphereand Space Center president was sentenced this morning to 36 months in federalprison for his role in stealing and selling space artifacts from the museum, The Hutchinson News reports.

U.S.District Court Judge J. Thomas Marten also ordered an additional supervisedrelease period of 36 months that will follow the prison sentence.

"Ithink a prison sentence is important in your case," said Judge Martenwhile delivering his decision, "for people to get the message," TheWichita Eagle reports.

Ary will also pay restitution for the stolen spaceartifacts, which includes property that belonged to NASA and the Cosmosphere. A hearing to be held within the next monthwill determine the amount.

Ary, 56, was convicted November 1, 2005, on a dozen federalcharges, including three counts each of mail fraud and interstatetransportation of stolen property, and two counts each of wire fraud, theft ofgovernment property and money laundering.

Aroutine audit conducted by the Cosmosphere staff in2003 first found that hundreds of artifacts were missing from the museum'scollection, which in turn led to the discovery of the unauthorized sales. Ary maintained he was innocent, testifying that he had mademistakes and confused museum and government property with his own.

For full coverage and history of this case, including anitemization of the artifacts that went missing, see

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Robert Z. Pearlman Editor, Contributor

Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.