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Legislation to award astronauts moon rocks

July 26, 1999 — On July 20, 1999, the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, members of the House of Representatives proposed legislation directing NASA to present each Apollo astronaut a lunar rock specimen. The moon rocks would be the focus of an Apollo Exploration Award.

Under the provisions of the bill (H.R. 2572), introduced by Representatives Mark E. Souder and David Weldon, the award would be designed by the NASA Administrator and would honor "the accomplishments of the astronauts who flew in the Apollo program." The bill specified that a "lunar rock sample shall be the central feature of the award," but will allow free access and removal of the sample.

Given the rarity of lunar rocks, the bill places restrictions on the transfer of the award. Once presented, it cannot be sold or otherwise transferred for profit. It may be inherited but only by a family member of the astronaut.

If the award is not bequeathed (or as another of the bill's sections allow, has not been transferred to a museum or non-profit institution), the title to the lunar rock will revert to NASA.

The bill also assigns NASA the right to recall an award's sample for scientific purposes, given that the lunar rock is returned promptly or a replacement is quickly issued.

Fourteen congressmen co-sponsored the bill (in addition to Weldon). The full text of the bill can be found as part of the congressional record.

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