-- The family of astronaut Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom is battling NASA over ownership of the spacesuit he wore when he became the second American in space.

NASA officials say Grissom never brought back the 1961 Mercury suit he borrowed for a show-and-tell session at a school.

But Scott Grissom said his father, who died in a 1967 Apollo 1 training exercise fire, took the suit from a NASA storage facility because he feared the agency would discard it.

Scott Grissom said the family lent the suit in 1989 to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Museum in Titusville, Fla., where it remains on display. When he and his 75-year-old mother, Betty, tried to retrieve the suit last month, NASA officials stepped in and said it was government property.

Brian Dunbar, spokesman for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said there is no way of knowing how much the historic suit could be worth because the agency has never let a spacesuit out of its hands.

Lawyers are negotiating over the suit's ownership.

Scott Grissom, a 49-year-old Federal Express pilot, said the family wants to continue displaying the spacesuit, but in Indiana, his father's home state. Possibilities include the Children's Museum of Indianapolis and Gus Grissom's alma mater Purdue University.

Scott Grissom did not rule out a sale. Betty Grissom, who lives in Houston, relies on Social Security and her husband's pension, a total of about $2,000 a month.

"I don't think my mom would ever sell [the spacesuit], but you never know," he said.

Astronaut Virgil "Gus" Grissom poses next to his Mercury capsule, Liberty Bell 7, before a suborbital flight on July 21, 1961. The spacesuit he used that day is the subject of an ownership dispute between his family and NASA. Grissom died in a 1967 Apollo launch-pad fire.