Playing With Moon Rocks and Duct Tape at the Dinner Table

By Keith Cowing
August 11, 2009
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Playing With Moon Rocks and Duct Tape at the Dinner Table

Last evening I was prowling through pictures taken during the current Expedition aboard the International Space Station when I came across a picture of astronauts and a Moon rock. The photo was taken on 21 July 2009 and shows portions of the combined Expedition 20 and STS-127 crews gathered around the dinner table while Mike Barratt holds a Moon rock. This was hauntingly familiar.

While Scott Parazynski was at Everest Base Camp in April he spoke with Barratt twice by satellite phone – once, on his birthday before I arrived, and a second time, the day after I arrived when a group of JSC trekkers stopped by for a visit. Unbeknownst to the JSC trekkers (or the rest of Everest Base Camp and Mike Barratt for that matter) I had a piece of plastic containing four small Apollo 11 moon rocks in my chest pocket.

By coincidence, unbeknownst to Scott and I, Mike Barratt also had another Apollo 11 Moon rock (albeit a bigger one) with him on the ISS, having been delivered by STS-119 only a few days before.

Gee, these Moon rocks certainly manage to visit exciting places – and do so with great stealth.

I had carried these little Moon rocks all the way from the states such that Scott could then carry them to the summit of Mt. Everest. In order not to spill the beans, we refered to the sample as “the Nugget” and our plan to get it to the summit (and back!) quickly became known as “Nugget Ops.” Every now and again Scott and I got a little carried away with NASAspeak such that our friends at Base Camp gave us silly looks. We are such geeks.

Full story and pictures here

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.