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Nixon moon dust shelved

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Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon

PA

Richard Nixon

They were meant to represent enduring friendship with the American people and a lasting monument to man's achievement on reaching the moon.

But just 15 years after President Richard Nixon presented four tiny fragments of moon dust to Prime Minister Harold Wilson, it seems they had lost their lustre.

Government files show the relics were found sadly languishing in a cupboard in Downing Street.

When No 10 suggested the Science Museum might want to put them on display, they were rejected as a "curiosity" on a par with "a toothbrush once used by Napoleon" which the museum also held.

In 1970, when Mr Nixon handed over the samples of moon rock collected by Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, museums around the country had vied for the honour of showing them.

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