The 'Space Window' at National Cathedral in Washington
There is a tiny piece of the moon in Washington's National Cathedral, delivered there personally by the men who brought it back.
Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins delivered the seven-gram sample from the lunar Sea of Tranquility during a ceremony at the Cathedral on July 21, 1974, five years after their history-making lunar landing.
"On behalf of the President and the people of the United States we present unto you this fragment of creation from beyond the earth to be imbedded in the fabric of this house of prayer for all people," said Armstrong, who's life and legacy will be honored during a memorial service at the Cathedral on Thursday, Sept. 13.
The stained glass window that houses the piece of moon rock has become known as the "Space Window." It was donated by Dr. Thomas O. Paine, NASA's administrator during the Apollo 11 mission, and designed by St. Louis artist Rodney Winfield. Whirling stars and orbiting planets are depicted in orange, red and white on a deep blue and green field.
President Nixon authorized the gift of the lunar rock, which is now encased in an air-tight, nitrogen-filled capsule in the window.
In preparation for mounting the 3.6 billion-year-old sample collected by Armstrong and Aldrin, workers sealed a rock section two-and-one-half inches in diameter sealed between two pieces of tempered glass circled with a band of stainless steel. The sealing was done in a nitrogen environment so that any void between the pieces of glass would be filled with nitrogen rather than air, preventing deterioration. The moon rock is a basalt, probably from a lava flow. The mineral pyroxferroite, unknown on Earth, was also discovered in the rock.
The cathedral's dean, Rev. Francis B. Sayre, Jr., preached on the spiritual significance and religious implications of the first steps on moon by man.
'Space Window' Image Gallery