Apollo 11 moon rocks are scheduled to be transferred Wednesday from the Minnesota National Guard to the Minnesota Historical Society in front of an audience of children at Science and Technology Academies Reinforcing Basic Aviation and Space Exploration (STARBASE) Minnesota.
“The Apollo 11 moon rocks were found amongst military artifacts in a storage area at the Veterans Service Building in St. Paul,” said Army Maj. Blane R. Iffert, former state historian for the Minnesota National Guard.
The five encased rocks are part of a desktop display that includes a small state of Minnesota flag that was among the 50 from every state that made the trip aboard Apollo 11. Each state received a moon rock display from President Richard Nixon to commemorate the mission that put Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969.
“When I searched the internet to find additional information about the moon rocks, I knew we had to find a better means to display this artifact,” said Iffert. “It is stated on some websites that approximately 180 are currently unaccounted for of the 270 moon rocks from the Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 missions. We’ve just lowered that number by one.”
“We are honored to have this in our collection to preserve for future generations,” said Pat Gaarder, Minnesota Historical Society Deputy Director. “Space exploration is an important part of our shared history. It is also exciting to think that our collection includes artifacts from across the globe and now with these moon rocks, the galaxy.”
“These students will one day be the scientists, engineers and astronauts to first set foot on Mars,” said Kim Van Wie, executive director of STARBASE Minnesota. “We’re excited they’ll be able to see, first hand, evidence of this historic Apollo mission to the moon and how that has paved the way for future exploration that they could eventually be a part of.”
“The purpose of STARBASE is to educate and inspire urban youth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM),” said Van Wie. “STARBASE Minnesota’s hands-on curriculum, unique aerospace resources, state of the art technology and exciting environment that immerses students in STEM has inspired 41,000 youth since 1993.”