Legislation Aims to Protect Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Site

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin steps down the ladder to the surface of the moon. (Credit: NASA)

Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have introduced legislation aimed at protecting the historic Apollo 11 landing site as the 50th anniversary of the mission approaches next month.

The One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act seeks to protect the Sea of Tranquility site where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked for its historical and archeological value.

“The Apollo 11 landing site and other similar historic landing sites in outer space merit legal protection from inadvertent or intentional interference with such sites or the environment surrounding such sites in order to prevent irremediable loss of archaeological, anthropological, historical, scientific, and engineering significance and value,” the bill states.

“As commercial enterprises and more countries acquire the ability to land on the Moon, it is necessary to ensure the recognition and protection of the Apollo 11 landing site and other historic landing sites together with all the human effort and innovation the sites represent,” the act added.

Organizations conducting operations in space would be required to comply with a set of recommendations issued by NASA in 2011 in order to received an U.S. government license for their missions. Fines are authorized for violations.

The bill contains an exception for activities “determined to have legitimate and significant historical, archeological, anthropological, scientific, or engineering value. The agency granting the license would be required to consult with NASA before granting an exemption.

The measure is being promoted by For All Moonkind, a non-profit group dedicated to the preservation of space sites.

“Thank you and for the One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act! Everyone – contact your Senators and tell them to vote to protect our history in space,” the group Tweeted.

Fast Company Selects Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Space


Fast Company has released its annual list of the most innovative companies for 2018. The 10 top innovators in the space industry are shown above.

I’m a bit surprised by Stratolaunch landing at no. 10. The aircraft is impressive; I’ve seen it in person outside, and it’s positively Spruce Goosian in its size and ambition. And I’ve been on tarmacs walking around a 747 and an A380, which are also very large airplanes.

That being said, the reality is that the only rocket it available to launch is a Pegasus, whose primary launch aircraft is Orbital ATK’s 44-year old L-1011 that’s parked just down the flight line from the Stratolaunch hangar. They’re working on developing a larger booster for the giant aircraft, so maybe Stratolaunch will be as innovative as Fast Company believes it is at some point. Never say never.

It just seems that Burt Rutan got focused on building the coolest flying vehicle he could while the whole issue of the rocket was not as well thought through. A similar thing happened with SpaceShipTwo, contributing to years of delay.

The other thing is I heard last fall is the Stratolaunch aircraft might not fly until sometime well into next year. So, it could be a while before we see how well that thing actually performs in flight.