The Current

This Moon is My Moon, This Moon is Your Moon

A bill to declare lunar national park would have the United States lay claim to the moon—or at least, the stuff we left up there.

    Photo: ollyy/Shutterstock

With private entities and foreign nations inching toward their first journeys to the moon, some members of Congress are thinking ahead about staking, or re-staking, the government's claims there.  The Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act, proposed last week by Democratic Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas and Donna Edwards of Maryland, would designate the site of the Apollo 11 lunar landing as a National Historic Park.

No, the lawmakers are not trying to actually add the moon itself to the National Park System. Rather, the bill lists seven groups of "artifacts" that are at rest on the moon's surface during missions extending from 1969 to 1972.

The thrust of the bill is to establish a legal avenue for punishing parties that take or damage any of the U.S. leave-behinds, just as the designation makes tampering with or stealing artifacts in any other National Park illegal. How, exactly, these infringements would be prosecuted is yet unclear.

The bill also calls for the Secretary of the Interior to submit the park, one year after its establishment, for designation as a World Heritage Site under UNESCO.

What we want to know: Will recreational astro-climbers be allowed to affix permanent climbing anchors on these lunar artifacts?

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