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Bonne Terre man goes long way to pick up a rock

BONNE TERRE — Earl Mullins has gone to Huntsville, Ala., to pick up a rock.

It’s not just any rock. It’s a NASA-owned moon rock that is being loaned to Mullins for the second-annual Show Me Space Festival in Bonne Terre Saturday.

The moon rock is from Apollo 15. During the six Apollo surface excursions, 2,415 rock samples weighing 842 pounds were collected and brought to the United States.

“It’s incredible NASA has put that much confidence in us to loan it to us,” he said.

When it is not on display at the festival, it will be locked up at a bank.

The moon rock display, though, is just one part of the space festival. The event will be held inside and outside the Space Museum, located next door to Heritage Hall on East School Street in Bonne Terre. The museum opens at 9 a.m. but most of the activities take place between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The event is free with admission to the museum. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students and active military. Children under 5 will be admitted free.

Caledonia native and former astronaut, Dick Richards will attend the event. Richards will speak at 3:30 p.m. at Heritage Hall.

Richards lives in Texas but considers this area to be home. Mullins calls Richards an American hero, a great guy and a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan.

Richards is a four-time shuttle astronaut: STS 28, 41, 50 and 64. He spent a total of 33 days in space.

“He’s a wonderful example of how people in middle America can really excel and make a difference,” Mullins said. “You don’t have to come from great beginnings to be a world changer … Just because you start humbly doesn’t mean you can’t take what you’ve been given and accomplish wonderful things.”

There will several exhibits including Segways, Unisphere, miniature jet engines and robotics, and an American bald eagle from the World Bird Sanctuary.

Techno Wizards will have a flight simulator computer program that will allow people to see what it’s like to fly an airplane, a helicopter or anything flyable.

“It’s going to be a good time,” Mullins said.

People will have a chance to visit with Richards at a fundraising banquet for the space museum at 5:30 p.m. at Heritage Hall. Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased at the Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce office or by calling 573-358-4000. Seating is limited.

Mullins is hoping the event will get bigger and better each year.

Mullins opened the museum in 2005. It is possibly the largest privately-held collection of space memorabilia in the state. For more information about the museum, visit

He said the museum is beginning to draw statewide recognition. He’s happy that local schools and even schools across the state are beginning to call him.

More people are visiting the museum, which will eventually expand into a new spot in Heritage Hall. The Samaritan Lodge in Bonne Terre has helped him clean up the new spot.

Mullins said a private benefactor was able to get the Space Museum listed as an attraction on the Bonne Terre U.S. 67 exit sign.

Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at

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