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Citing Security, Colo. Removes Apollo 11 Moon Rocks From Display

STATE BILL COLORADO

Colorado’s Lucite-encased set of Apollo 11 moon rocks have been quietly removed from their locked third-floor display case at the Capitol and securely stored following news reports that such rocks may be worth as much as $5 million.

The state’s Capitol Building Advisory Committee plans to discuss a week from Friday a way to securely display the rocks.

“We have the state patrol scanning people as they come in, but this is a very open building with people wandering around,” said a Capitol staffer who agreed to talk about the rocks on a condition of anonymity. “It’s difficult to display things here in a way that’s secure.”

A second set of Colorado moon rocks was briefly considered lost but was located in June in the Grand Junction home of former Gov. John Vanderhoof. Those rocks, considered less valuable because they came from the later Apollo 17 mission, have since been moved to the Colorado School of Mines. But they won’t go on display until next month at the earliest, a university spokeswoman says.

The $5 million price tag is a reported black-market valuation that is viewed skeptically by some in state government. But the high valuation together with the small size of the rock display and the lack of an alarm system make it a tempting target for theft, the Capitol staffer said.

The Apollo 11 rocks have been on display at the Capitol since at least 1992, although they were on the first floor then.

According to a state publication, the encased state flag and moon rocks were presented to the people of Colorado by President Richard Nixon in the spring of 1970 at the National Governors’ Conference in Washington, D.C. At the presentation, which took place in the U.S. State Department Auditorium, Nixon presented all the governors with their respective state flag and sample moon rocks. The flags had traveled to the moon in the Apollo 11 space craft, which made the first manned lunar landing in July 1969.

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