Story last updated at 8/18/2010 - 12:23 pm
On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy challenged the United States space program to safely send an American to the moon by the end of the decade. NASA met this challenge, accomplishing the President's goal by launching Apollo 11. The Eagle lunar module landed on the moon July 20, 1969. Part of this mission included collecting lunar samples from the moon to bring back to Earth.
NASA prepared the moon rocks for presentation to all 50 states and 135 countries around the world by the Nixon Administration. Alaska received its very own Apollo 11 Moon Rock, which in reality is four lunar fragments displayed in a Lucite ball, yet priceless to collectors. So how did Alaska treat its treasure from space? It is currently lost, misplaced, or has been stolen. State government officials are clueless to the whereabouts of this priceless treasure and Alaska's law enforcement is doing nothing to find its moon rock that may command 5 million dollars on the black market. Sadly, America's biggest state has made a blunder proportionate to its size.
My professor, a retired NASA Office of Inspector General Senior Special Agent, assigns his students the task of investigating unaccounted-for moon rocks that were given to the states and nations of the world. This assignment is called the "Moon Rock Project." I was assigned the Alaskan Apollo 11 Moon Rock to investigate and I have been pursuing it for five weeks.
Throughout this investigation, I have encountered people who have never heard of the Apollo 11 Goodwill Moon Rock and do not understand its significance and value. However, I have been in contact with others who are intrigued and have offered their assistance in the search. In particular, Steve Henrikson, Curator of Collections at the Alaska State Museum, is working diligently on this investigation. He contacted other museums in Alaska, urging them to search through their records to see if there is any sign of the moon rock display. Henrikson also contacted local government officials, who have no recollection of the moon rock; some are not even aware of the moon rock or its value.
Tatyana Stepanova, an archivist from the Alaska State Archives, provided evidence dating back to October 9, 1970. This evidence proves the moon rock display was presented to Alaska and was lent out to various individuals to be displayed throughout the state. The last location on record where the Moon Rock was to be displayed is the Chugiak Gem and Mineral Society in Anchorage, scheduled to be shown from February 12, 1971 through February 24, 1971. There is no evidence of the moon rock display's location beyond this date.
The fact of the matter is this moon rock was a gift from the Nixon Administration to the state of Alaska. It was meant to be shared with the people. An artifact of this nature represents an important accomplishment of our space program, and I am committed to seeing this investigation through. With help from the good citizens of Alaska, I am confident we will be successful.
Elizabeth Riker is a criminal justice graduate student and member of the "Moon Rock Project" at the University of Phoenix. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.