Delaware lunar sample displays

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The Delaware lunar sample displays are two commemorative plaques consisting of small fragments of moon specimen brought back with the Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 lunar missions and given in the 1970s to the people of the state of Delaware by United States President Richard Nixon as goodwill gifts.[1][2]


Apollo 11[edit]

The Delaware Apollo 11 lunar sample display commemorative plaque consists of four "moon rock" rice-size particle specimens that were collected by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969 and a small Delaware state flag that was taken to the moon and back on Apollo 11.[1]

The 4 "moon rocks" weigh about 0.05 grams total and are encased in a clear plastic button the size of a coin which is mounted to a wooden board approximately one foot square on a small podium pedestal display. The small podium plaque display also has mounted on it a small Delaware state flag that had been taken to the moon and back, which lies directly below the "goodwill moon rocks". The small podium plaque display was given to the people of the state of Delaware as a gift by President Richard Nixon. Similar lunar sample displays were also distributed to all the other states of the United States and all the countries (at the time) of the world.[1]

Apollo 17[edit]

Message on Apollo 17 plaque

The Delaware Apollo 17 lunar sample display commemorative style plaque, measuring 10 by 14 inches, consists of one "moon rock" particle specimen that was cut from lunar basalt 70017 and a Delaware state flag. The basalt 70017 was collected by Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt on the moon in 1972. Once lunar basalt 70017 was brought back to earth from the moon, the basalt moon rock was cut up into small fragments of approximately 1 gram. The specimen was encased in a plastic ball and mounted on the wooden plaque along with the Delaware state flag which had been taken to the moon and back by the crew of Apollo 17. The plaque was then distributed in 1973 by President Richard Nixon to the state of Delaware, as he did that year to the other 49 states (the same as for the Apollo 11 plaque gifts). This was done as a goodwill gesture to promote peace and harmony.[2]


The Delaware Apollo 11 "goodwill moon rocks" plaque display was presented to Governor Russell W. Peterson and placed on exhibit in the Delaware State Museum in Dover in April 1970.[3] On September 22, 1977, both the capsule containing the "moon rocks" and the Delaware state flag were stolen off the podium-style plaque. The thief apparently cut the nails holding down the plexiglass over the display to remove the flag and "moon rocks" capsule. The museum curator said that that day they had 11 visitors. Ten of the visitors signed in as normal, but the eleventh visitor (the suspect, a man) did not. The heist was noticed when a museum employee made his rounds at the end of the day. The museum did not have a security guard. The reason for the heist is unknown. The curator of the museum said that the thief would have trouble fencing the items (state flag and capsule with moon dust) because no collector would see the connection to the Apollo 11 mission and believe they have much value.[3] The Delaware Apollo 11 "goodwill moon rocks" plaque display is now rarely on exhibit, as the face of the plaque has nothing on it.[4]

The Delaware Apollo 17 lunar samples plaque display was presented by NASA astronaut Paul Joseph Weitz to then-Delaware Governor Sherman W. Tribbitt on January 21, 1975. The commemorative plaque display is housed in a climate-controlled storeroom at the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs' collection of artifacts.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Pearlman, Robert (1999–2012). "Where today are the Apollo 11 goodwill lunar sample displays?". Retrieved November 2, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Pearlman, Robert (1999–2012). "Where today are the Apollo 17 goodwill lunar sample displays". Retrieved November 2, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Parker, Paula (October 4, 1977). "'Priceless' moon souvenirs stolen, officials say". Morning News. Wilmington Delaware. p. 3. 
  4. ^ George, Pam (June 7, 2011). "Reluctant "rock" star: Where is Delaware's moon rock?". WDDE 91.1 FM. Archived from the original on October 24, 2013. Retrieved November 6, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Moon Rock Presented To Tribbitt". Every Evening Journal. Wilmington, Delaware. January 22, 1975. p. 3 main section/4th column. 

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