Friday, September 23, 2011

Arkansas Apollo 17 commemorative lunar sample found packed away among Bill Clinton's files

Diane Alter

A long lost, highly valuable moon rock, bought back by Apollo 17 has been found in former U.S. president Bill Clinton's files.

The rock, missing for 30 years, was one of 50 presented to each state after the 1972 space mission. It was presented to Clinton's predecessor Gov. David Pryor in 1976. The rock hung in the governor's office that was later occupied by Clinton. The rock was apparently packed away with Clinton's memorabilia after it fell off its plaque.

The moon rock is estimated to be worth $10 million. NASA says that few of the rocks, which were encased in acrylic and mounted on a plaque with the intended recipient's flag, can be located.

The rock has been missing since 1980. Reports are that the rock fell off the plaque and was mistakenly packed away with gubernatorial papers belonging to Clinton. The archivist knew exactly what is was when he stumbled upon it.

Three months after Apollo 17 returned home, then-president Richard Nixon ordered that fragments of the rocks carried home by astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt be distributed among 135 foreign heads of state, the 50 U.S. states and its territories. When presented to the states as gifts, they became property of the state they were donated to. Only 60 can be located. The rest are said to have been stolen or lost.

The rock is currently safely stored in a library safe.

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