This is a replica of the plaque commemorating the fourteen U.S. astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts that had died previous to the flight of Apollo 15 in 1971. The original plaque was placed on the Moon's surface by Apollo 15 commander Dave Scott in August 1971, to accompany a miniature sculpture of a human figure (made by Belgian artist Paul van Hoeydonck).
The plaque and statue were left without publicity and their existence was only revealed during the Apollo 16 launch. This replica was given to the Smithsonian Institution on April 17, 1972, the day after CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite revealed, during the broadcast of the Apollo 16 launch, the existence of the "fallen astronaut" and plaque as the first art on the Moon.
Gift of Paul Van Hoeydonck