December 23, 2010
After long absence, Missouri moon rock lands back in state care
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The moon rock has landed.
Missouri's missing moon rock, a keepsake of the Apollo 17 mission, recently turned up in the archives of the Washington, D.C., office of U.S. Sen. Kit Bond.
Sen. Bond presented the moon rock to Gov. Jay Nixon at a private dinner this week at the Missouri Governor's Mansion in Jefferson City. The moon rock now will be on display in the reception area of Gov. Nixon's office throughout January 2011, and then will be entrusted to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for safekeeping and public display.
"This moon rock is a special piece of Missouri's - and America's - history, and we're pleased that it will be available for generations to come," Gov. Nixon said. "Nearly 40 years have passed since that milestone for our nation, and this commemorative plaque is a reminder of that legacy. The Department of Natural Resources will take good care of this artifact, as Sen. Bond has for many years."
President Richard Nixon gave moon rocks as goodwill gifts to all 50 states and 135 foreign countries in 1973, when Sen. Bond was the Governor of Missouri. He became a U.S. Senator in 1986. Members of Sen. Bond's staff found the rock this week while sorting through hundreds of boxes of memorabilia. Sen. Bond is retiring this year, after 40 years in public office.
"I suspect it may have been easier to find one's way to the moon than find the rock buried amongst the clutter of 40 years of public records," Sen. Bond said.
The black rock is encased in resin and affixed to a wooden plaque, along with a miniature flag of Missouri that was carried to the moon aboard Spacecraft America during the Apollo 17 mission, from Dec. 7-19, 1972. Apollo 17 was the last manned mission to the moon.
The rock is from the Taurus Littrow Valley of the moon. The plaque states that the rock was part of a larger rock composed of many particles of different shapes and sizes, "a symbol of the unity of human endeavor and mankind's hope for a future of peace and harmony."
Last year, a New Jersey newspaper reported that 19 states, including Missouri, could not account for the whereabouts of their historic moon rocks. At that time, the Missouri State Museum did possess a fragment of a moon rock from the Apollo 11 mission.