A certain Apollo 17 moon rock has had quite the mission over these past few years.
The rock is from the 1972 Apollo 17 landing and has been preserved in order to honor and celebrate the last U.S. manned mission to the moon. The Apollo 17 mission included astronauts like Harrison Schmitt, Ronald Evans, and Gene Cernan.
A Garage Sale Moon Rock
Here’s a bit of a recap on the tiresome journey of the moon rock. The rock started out, obviously, on the moon. From there, it was brought back to the U.S. and gifted to the state of Louisiana. Somewhere along the way, the moon rock went missing. It’s not clear how or when it did so. The Apollo 17 moon rock is encased inside of a ball and has a descriptive wooden plaque that showcases the state’s flag, amongst other inscriptions.
Somehow, this notable piece of U.S. history and evidence of space exploration ended up at a Florida garage sale. According to ABC News, the man who discovered the Apollo 17 rock said he found it at a garage sale sometime over the past 15 years. That means someone was willingly getting rid of something not only rare but clearly historic.
As it turns out, the man was looking to gather up old wooden plaques. The goal was to use the wood to refurbish the stocks on his guns.
He found this specific rock, along with its wooden plaque, and decided to come forward with it.
“I can’t even tell you how long I owned it for. I’m not even sure how much I paid for it. I buy plaques because I take the wood from the plaques and I send it over to my gunstock guy and he makes grips for my Colts and so forth,” the man said to CollectSPACE.
History Behind Apollo 17 Moon Rock
As of now, the moon rock will likely have a pretty long pause in its travels. It is now at the Louisiana State Museum, safe and secured, as officials look to check its authenticity. The item came back home last year. The museum is now sharing the good news with the public.
This moon rock does include the original plaque. The artifact has the names of all the astronauts on the mission and the Louisiana state flag. It also says, “This fragment is a portion of a rock from Taurus Littrow Valley of the Moon. It 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.”
During the 1970s, when space exploration reached a peak, lunar fragments were not uncommon. This moon rock is among hundreds that were given to different states, territories, or other nations at the time. The Richard Nixon administration gifted the rocks.
There are even samples out there from the infamous Apollo 11 crew, including Neil Armstrong. Several of these samples mysteriously went missing years later.
It all goes to show — one man’s junk placed out at a garage sale is another country’s beloved moon rock that was missing for years.