A Look Back: Liechtenstein's Contribution to US Moon Landings
Currently on display at the Liechtenstein National Museum are five pieces of moon rock given to Liechtenstein by US President Richard Nixon. These five pieces of moon rock were collected by US astronauts during the first and last manned moon flights – Apollo 11 in the year 1969 and Apollo 17 three years later. During these two missions the Liechtenstein flag was transported all the way to the moon and back to earth.
The plaque states: "Presented to the People of the Principality of Liechtenstein by Richard Nixon, President of the United States of America - This flag of your nation was carried to the Moon and back by Apollo 11, and this fragment of the Moon's surface was brought to Earth by the crew of that first manned lunar landing."
With the “Liechtenstein” moon rock the USA also recognised the contribution made by the local industrial corporation Balzers AG (today part of OC Oerlikon) towards manned moon flights. Balzers AG is the global leader in vacuum technology and the production of thin protective coatings, and supplied important components for the Apollo program.
The moon rock and the flags were brought to Liechtenstein in 1970 and 1973 respectively and gifted by President Nixon in the name of the American people to the people of Liechtenstein.
The plaque states: "This fragment is a portion of rock from the Taurus Littrow Valley of the Moon. It is given as a symbol of the unity of human endeavor and carries with it the hope of the American people for a world at peace. - This flag of your nation was carried to the Moon aboard Spacecraft America during the Apollo XVII mission, December 7-19, 1972. Presented to the people of the Principality of Liechtenstein from the people of the United States of America. Richard Nixon 1973
On the six manned moon flights astronauts collected nearly 850 pounds of moon rock. These samples are between 3.2 billion and 4.6 billion years old, making them substantially older than all rock formations found on earth.