Kuiper sits in front of a Loblolly Moon Tree.

Bethesda, Maryland Moon Tree

“This tree which was carried by Astronauts Stuart Roosa, Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell on their mission to the moon, is a living symbol of our spectacular human and scientific achievements.” President Gerald Ford, telegram, 1976

This isn’t just any old tree Kuiper is parked in front of; it’s our third MOON TREE! This one is a Loblolly pine. It lives in Bethesda. Maryland at the Society of American Foresters @eforester_org where it was planted on September 30, 1975. We visited the tree this summer on our epic cross-country roadtrip.

Before he became an astronaut, Command Module Pilot Stuart Roosa was a smokejumper (one of the brave firefighters who parachute in to fight wildfires.) On January 31, 1971, he brought 500 seeds aboard #Apollo14 as a tribute to the US #ForestService. While Alan Shepard was busy playing golf on the moon, Roosa stayed aboard to do SCIENCE.

Unfortunately, the seed container was accidentally exposed to vacuum on the way home. ? None of the seeds were expected to survive.  However, the Forest Service decided to give them a chance. They carefully separated all five species of tree seeds and divided them between two Forest Service stations, one in California and one in Mississippi.

To their astonishment most of the seeds germinated. Most of the trees were planted around the country as part of the US bicentennial celebration in 1976. Out of over 400 seedlings, around 50 trees are still alive and accounted for.

✔️ Douglas Fir
✔️ Sycamore
✔️ Loblolly Pine
❌ Sweetgum
❌ Redwood

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bac7v9YgVtW/

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