Moon rock part of exhibit planned for UVa-Wise Convocation Center on Jan. 26

An unusual contract for a grayish, charcoal-sized lump of rock is of record among the coal and natural gas right agreements and real estate property deeds in Wise County this week.    

Wise County & Norton Clerk of Court Jack Kennedy executed a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to display an Apollo 14 moon rock from the nearside of the moon at the Fra Mauro Highlands. The display will occur during the fourth week of January 2012. 

Loaned to Wise County by NASA, the moon rock and lunar display are part of a museum-like science-art exhibit set for The University of Virginia's College at Wise, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012.  A live audio-video downlink with astronauts and a humanoid robot aboard the International Space Station is set to communicate with hundreds of local students.    

"The Wise County clerk of court office is most likely the first in Virginia to record a moon mineral lease," Kennedy said.  "In this case, we are touching the future by celebrating the most remarkable event in human civilization's history." 

 The moon rock will be secured in the Wise County Courthouse vaults at night and kept with a security detail during all periods of display.  There are 842 lbs of moon rock on Earth and most is locked away in Houston, TX.  None has been in the region.

     "Perhaps another generation may be inspired in some positive way by the thought of returning humans to the moon, this time to stay, to mine its resources, and colonize a second world," Kennedy said.  "The moon consists of an abundant wealth of minerals awaiting humanity's return.  Confronting the legal and technical complexities of mining the moon is fascinating."

Students from Wise, Scott, Lee, Russell, and Dickenson counties and Norton city schools along with others from Mountain Empire Community College, and The University of Virginia's College at Wise are gathering for a science festival at the UVa-Wise Convocation Center on Jan. 26.  Nearly 3,000 students will participate.  Apollo 14 lunar astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who gathered the lunar rock sample, is considering an invitation to lecture and participate in the moon rock display.

The space station downlink event's co-sponsors are a public-private partnership lead by the Southwestern Virginia Technology Council, the Napoleon Hill Foundation, Wise County, The University of Virginia's College at Wise, Mountain Empire Community College and a host of private and corporate entities working in cooperation with the NASA Teaching from Space Office.