We went to the moon in 1969, a moment where time stopped and the world watched. That same year, President Nixon gave Alaska a gift from outer space, a souvenir from the moon.
Those moon rocks from Apollo 11 were on display at an Anchorage transportation museum in 1973, when the building was torched by an arsonist. That’s when the rocks disappeared.
They were missing until late 2010 when former Alaska resident, Arther Anderson – the foster son of the museum’s director – asked a Superior Court judge to declare him the owner of the rocks.
“The theory of the plaintiff was that the moon rocks had been abandoned by the state because they were damaged after the fire,” said Assistant Attorney General Neil Slotnick.
He says that version of events sounded dubious to state officials, so they counter-sued Anderson in a case that the state eventually won, meaning the moon rocks have returned home.
For Steve Henrickson, the curator at the State Museum in Juneau, it was an emotional development.
“Unfortunately ours went missing soon after it got here and we’re extremely proud to be able to return it to Alaska,” Henrickson said.
Henrickson traveled to Houston, Texas this week to the Johnson Space Center, where he collected the state's prize in person.
The rocks will be on display at the state museum in Juneau in December. Then they're off to tour the state, where they will hopefully encourage others to shoot for the moon.
Contact Caslon Hatch