As commercial space travel continues to intensify, it would be nice if all those space tourists had a place to visit. How about a national park, for example?
Even though the sequester earlier this year threatened to turn national parks here on Earth into “ghost towns,” the first national park in outer space could soon be established, if a pair of Democrats in the U.S. House have their way.
Recognizing that the Apollo missions were one of the “greatest achievements in American history,” U.S. Reps. Donna Edwards, D-Md., and Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, introduced legislation to turn the Apollo lunar landing sites into a national park, The Hill reported. If the Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act is approved and signed into law, the Apollo Lunar Landing Sites National Historical Park would open within one year of the legislation’s passage.
Astronauts visited the moon on six different Apollo missions – Apollos 11, 12, 14,15, 16 and 17. The Apollo 13 mission “was aborted due to a serious malfunction en route to the Moon, also circled the Moon,” according to the legislation which was posted to The Hill’s website.
“As commercial enterprises and foreign nations acquire the ability to land on the Moon it is necessary to protect the Apollo lunar landing sites for posterity,” the co-sponsors noted in the legislation. “Establishing the Historical Park under this Act will expand and enhance the protection and preservation of the Apollo lunar landing sites and provide for greater recognition and public understanding of this singular achievement in American history.”
Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon. Armstrong stepped on the moon on July 20, 1969, as part of the Apollo 11 mission.
Humans haven’t stepped foot on the moon since the Apollo 17 mission nearly 41 years ago. That final mission launched on Dec. 7, 1972, and broke a number of Apollo records, including the longest longest time in lunar orbit.
Several Apollo missions were planned to followed Apollo 17, but were cancelled.
Meanwhile, anyone looking for a U.S. return to the moon will have to wait. With the Space Shuttle program in the history books as of 2011 and no plans for a return trip on the calendar as of now, it appears the next man on the moon may be a Chinese astronaut, who may or may not have a national park to visit while there.
So, cue up the Frank Sinatra, and “fly me to the moon…”