In November 1969, four months after the first manned lunar landing by Apollo 11, President Richard Nixon asked the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to prepare lunar soil samples collected from the mission for presentation to the 50 United States and 135 countries. Each sample was to be accompanied by the recipient’s state or national flag, which had traveled to the Moon and back aboard Apollo 11.
President Nixon presented this lunar soil display, containing approximately 50 milligrams of material, to the people of Minnesota in 1970 with the message:
Presented to the people of Minnesota by Richard Nixon, President of the United States of America.
This flag of your state was carried to the Moon and back by Apollo 11 and this fragment of the Moon’s surface was brought to Earth by the crew of that first manned lunar landing.
The display is presumed to have been received by the Office of the Governor, but for reasons which remain uncertain it was transferred to the Minnesota Department of Military Affairs where it remained for 40 years. In 2010 the display was discovered in a storage area by staff of the Minnesota National Guard, who transferred it to the Minnesota Historical Society in November, 2012.
Adam Scher, Senior Curator
For more details, view the Moon Rocks in our Collections Online database.