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Louis Armstrong Park was among locations to receive trees germinated from seeds that went to the moon in the Apollo XIV mission.

Hey Blake,

I remember hearing that seeds of some of the trees at Armstrong Park went to the moon as some sort of experiment. Is this true?

Dear reader,

In March 1974, about 100 seedlings and small trees that traveled to the moon and back as part of the Apollo XIV mission three years earlier, were presented to the city for planting in Louis Armstrong Park, which was under construction at the time. The Times-Picayune called them “trees as well-traveled as famed jazzman Louis Armstrong (which) will grace a large park to be named for him.”

According to a March 20, 1974 article in The Times-Picayune, the donation included redwoods, Douglas firs, sweetgums, sycamores and loblolly pines. They were some of the 500 seeds taken into orbit around the moon and distributed across the country. “We were interested to see if they would be affected by weightlessness, but they germinated normally,” said Dr. John C. Barber, director of the Southern Forest Experiment Station.

Apollo XIV, which took place in January and February 1971, was NASA’s third lunar mission. The crew included Cmdr. Alan Shepard, lunar module pilot Edgar Mitchell and command module pilot Stuart Roosa, a former U.S. Forest Service smokejumper, or parachuted firefighter, who coordinated the travel of the so-called “moon trees” and their seeds.

In July 1976, another moon tree was planted at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans East to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the first Apollo mission. Former astronaut Wally Schirra was present at the tree planting ceremony, where a time capsule was buried with plans for opening in 2076. Another moon tree was planted near the World Trade Center of New Orleans in 1983 but has since been removed.