Category Archives: History

Seeds descended from the Apollo 14 “Moon Trees” to go to the lunar surface

UK space activist Phill Parker sent the following announcement to me about his latest project:

UK Man to Send Apollo 14 Moon Trees Back to the Moon in 2017 –
This Time to Land on the Moon!

Apollo 14 launched in the late afternoon of January 31, 1971 on what was to be the third US manned trip to the lunar surface. Five days later astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell landed in their Lunar Module “Antares” and walked on the Moon at the Fra Mauro region exploring “Cone Crater” while their colleague and fellow astronaut, Stuart Roosa, a former U.S. Forest Service smoke jumper, orbited above the Moon in the command module “Kitty Hawk”.

Packed in small containers in Roosa’s personal kit were hundreds of tree seeds, part of a joint NASA/USFS project. Upon return to Earth, the seeds were germinated by the US Forest Service. Known as the “Moon Trees“, the resulting seedlings were planted throughout the United States (often as part of the nation’s bicentennial in 1976) and some parts of the world. They stand as a tribute to astronaut Roosa and the Apollo program. [See NASA’s Moon Trees website.]

MoonSycamoreClick for larger image

The project began after Roosa was chosen for the Apollo 14 mission. Ed Cliff, Chief of the Forest Service, knew of Stuart Roosa from his days as a smoke jumper and contacted him about bringing seeds into space. Stan Krugman of the Forest Service was put in charge of the project and selected the seeds for the experiment. Seeds were chosen from five different types of trees: Loblolly Pine, Sycamore, Sweetgum, Redwood, and Douglas Fir. The seeds were classified and sorted, and control seeds were kept on Earth for later comparison.

Roosa carried about 400 – 500 seeds in his personal kit which stayed with him as he orbited the Moon in the command module “Kitty Hawk” in February, 1971. The seeds were then sent to the southern Forest Service station in Gulfport, Mississippi and to the western station in Placerville, California to attempt germination. Surprisingly, nearly all the seeds germinated successfully, and the Forest Service had some 420 to 450 seedlings after a few years (some from cuttings). Some of these were planted with their earth-bound counterparts as controls, (as would be expected, after over twenty years there is no discernible difference) but most were given away in 1975 and 1976 to many state forestry organizations to be planted as part of the nation’s bicentennial celebration.

1280px-The_Apollo_14_Prime_Crew_-_GPN-2000-001168Stuart Roosa, Alan Shepard, and Edgar Mitchell

Astronaut Stuart Roosa was born on 16 August 1933, in Durango, Colorado. He worked for the Forest Service in the early 1950’s as a smoke jumper fighting fires and later joined the US Air Force and became a test pilot. He was one of 19 people selected for the astronaut class of 1966 and was part of the astronaut support crew for Apollo 9. Following Apollo 14, Roosa was backup command module pilot for Apollo’s 16 and 17. He then worked on the Space Shuttle program until his retirement as a Colonel in the Air Force in 1976, the time when many of his trees were being planted.

Sadly, Stuart Roosa passed away in December, 1994. The Moon Trees continue to flourish, a living monument to our first visits to the Moon and a fitting memorial to Stuart Roosa.

Now, nearly 45 years later since the original Apollo 14 Moon Tree seeds were flown around the Moon, spaceflight enthusiast Phill Parker – from Newcastleunder- Lyme, Staffordshie,UK – is flying some more Moon Tree generational Sycamore seeds from the original Moon Tree seeds back to the Moon in 2017 aboard the Astrobotic Griffin Moon Mission One. This will act as a further tribute to astronaut Stuart Roosa and the US Apollo Project . But this time not just to orbit the Moon but to actually land them on the surface of the Moon for the first time in the lunar region called Lacus Mortis!

PhillParkersMoonSycamoreSeedsPhill Parker’s Apollo 14 Moon Tree Generational
Sycamore seeds that are set to be flown aboard the
Griffin lunar lander in 2017.

The Griffin unmanned lunar lander will be launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida in 2017.



Phill Parker authored many Apollo manned lunar landing articles for the British Interplanetary Society in the 1960s-70s – several of which are cited in NASA’s official Apollo Bibliography and,additionally, founded the West European Space Colony Society in 1975 which later merged with the prestigious US National Space Society (NSS). He has produced many spaceflight exhibitions at museums in the UK and delivered over 750 talks on space missions across UK since 1964, as well as writing dozens of articles on spaceflight.

Dave Scott’s watch worn on the Moon sells for $1,625,000

I posted here earlier that the watch worn by astronaut Dave Scott on the lunar surface was up for auction. The auction resulted in a record setting price for an astronaut memorabilia item: RR Auction: Past Auction Item – Item 9001 – Apollo 15 Lunar Surface Chronograph –

Minimum Bid: $50,000.00
Sold Price: $1,625,000.00


Robert Pearlman says the buyer’s identity was not revealed: Astronaut’s watch worn on the moon sells for record $1.6 million – collectSPACE

The Bulova timepiece, which Apollo 15 commander David Scott wore during NASA’s fourth successful lunar landing mission in 1971, was sold by RR Auction of Boston for an astronomical $1,625,000 to businessman from Florida who wished to remain anonymous. The sale, which opened at $50,000 online on Oct. 15, ended Thursday evening during a live auction where the winner and his competing bidders participated by phone.

Scott, who also called in, listened as his very-well-traveled watch soared in a span of just five minutes from $475,000 to the hammer of $1.3 million (the $1.625 million includes the buyer’s premium charged by the auction house).

This substantially beats the previous record for an astronaut item sale:

The previous record was for a cuff checklist used by Charles Conrad, the third man to walk on the moon, which reportedly sold for $1.3 million to a private buyer in 2001.

Only Russian spacecraft have gotten higher prices in auctions of Moon Race era items.

Pearlman points to another Apollo timepiece that will be going up for auction later this year: Omega Speedmaster 50 – Christie’s.

However, this watch, owned by Ron Evans of the Apollo 17 mission, stayed in orbit in the command module and did not go down to the lunar surface.


Here is a statement from RR Auctions about this auction:

Dave Scott’s Apollo 15 watch sold for $1.6M at auction
Only privately owned watch worn on the Moon

BOSTON, MA – (October, 23 15) Dave Scott’s Apollo 15 lunar surface-worn chronograph watch sold for $1,625,000 according to Boston-based RR Auction.

Of the dozen men that have stepped foot on the moon, all wore the standard Omega Speedmasters. Officially issued by NASA, those Omegas are acknowledged as government property; many, including Dave Scott’s used during his first two moonwalks, are housed in institutions.

This leaves Commander Scott’s Bulova Chronograph as the singular lunar surface-worn watch in private hands.

After the second moonwalk, Scott noticed that the crystal of his Omega had popped off when he returned to the cabin, therefore he needed to call upon his own personal backup watch, the Bulova watch.

The Bulova Wrist Chronograph was worn during his third and final moonwalk of the mission.  As Commander Scott stepped onto the moon for his final lunar excursion, he wore this watch. When he saluted the American flag against the background of the majestic expanse of Hadley Delta, this watch adorned his left wrist.

“Among the decisions I made, the monitoring of time was perhaps most important,” Commander Dave Scott stated in a detailed five-page letter that accompanied the sale.

Apollo 15’s third lunar excursion—lasting 4 hours, 49 minutes, 50 seconds—was perhaps the most reliant on time expenditures, as Dave Scott and Jim Irwin conscientiously balanced their resources before departure, and eventual journey home. The watch, exhibits significant wear from exposure while on the Moon, and from splashdown and recovery.

“We are extremely pleased with the results and honored to have been able to offer such an historically important timepiece—the only American-made watch that was worn on the surface of the Moon,” said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction.

Highlights from the sale include, but are not limited by:

  • Gordon Cooper’s Mercury 9 Flight Plan Roller, sold for $89,775.
  • Apollo 16 Flown Cover, sold for $76,772.
  • Dave Scott’s Apollo 15 Lunar Surface-Used Rover map, sold for $37,485.
  • Buzz Aldrin’s Apollo 11 ‘Type 2’ Flown Cover, sold for $36,111.

Online bidding for The Space and Aviation Autograph from RR Auction began on October 15 and concluded on October 22. At 7:00 pm ET, a single lot live auction of Dave Scott’s watch took place at RR Auction’s Boston Gallery. More details, including results can be found online at

Music video: ‘Valentina’ by Public Service Broadcasting

I’ve previously posted a couple of space inspired music videos from Public Service Broadcasting. The songs came from their The Race For Space concept album. Below is a video for another song on the album. It is titled Valentina, inspired by Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to go into space. The music is beautiful and the scenes of her before, during, and after the flight present a captivating look at the Soviet Union and its space program of the early 1960s:


Space arts: Michael Kagan + Ed Belbruno

I mentioned Michael Kagan here a couple of years when his astronaut painting won the Best Art Vinyl 2013 top prize. The BBC reports about a space mural he created for a company in California: The Moon landings like you’ve never seen them before – BBC

The vast, life-size picture covers the entire wall of a room in the former Hughes Aircraft factory where America’s first lunar landers – the Surveyor spacecraft – were constructed. These mid-60s missions were sent ahead as robotic scouts to explore the Moon before the first crews arrived.

Hughes vacated the site 20 years ago and the Surveyor factory floor has been recently occupied by tech start-up RadPad who were attracted by the building’s space history and wanted a spectacular centrepiece for their new offices.

See a time-lapse video of his painting of the mural in the BBC article.


Mankind” by Michael Kagan, 2014


I’ve also posted here about artist, mathematician, and orbital mechanic extraordinaire Ed Belbruno. He will be having a show in New York City on October 22: Presents: The Art of Ed Belbruno.

On Oct. 22, meet Princeton University artist and mathematician — and columnist — Ed Belbruno in a public showing of his art at Café Minerva in Manhattan. Join to celebrate how Belbruno’s art unlocks discoveries in space exploration, and experience the beauty of the universe in a whole new way.

Here’s an interview with Belbruno from 2011: