Policy ForumSpace Law

International Cooperation on Human Lunar Heritage

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Science  29 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6162, pp. 1049-1050
DOI: 10.1126/science.1243607

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The U.S. Apollo Space Program was a premier technological accomplishment of the 20th century. Preserving the six historic landing sites of the manned Apollo missions, as well as the mementos and equipment still on the Moon from those and other U.S. (e.g., Ranger and Surveyor) and Soviet Union (e.g., Luna) missions is important. Some of the instruments on the lunar surface are still active, monitored, and provide valuable scientific information. But recent government and private-sector plans to explore and potentially use lunar resources for commercial activity raise questions about the use of the Moon and potential accidental or purposeful threats to the historic sites and scientific equipment there. Although some steps to protect these sites have been proposed, we suggest a better way, drawing on international, not U.S. unilateral, recognition for the sites.

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