Monday, 28 May 2012

NASA asks future explorers to respect historic landing sites

When the last American astronauts blasted off from the Moon in 1972, it seemed as if they were leaving behind monuments that would stand for all time. On a lifeless, airless satellite there would never be any scavengers or souvenir hunters, no wind to bury or wear down the abandoned spacecraft and artifacts, and no air to corrode metal. Even the footprints would still be there millions of years from now. Or so everyone thought. Now, with more and more nations and private organizations planning manned and unmanned missions to the Moon, NASA is worried that the Apollo landing sites and others could be endangered by the next wave of lunar explorers. To prevent this, the space agency issued a set of guidelines that politely asks everybody to keep their distance... Continue Reading NASA asks future explorers to respect historic landing sites


eon said...

I think somebody at NASA, for once, actually read something other than a John Holdren rant.

Namely, international salvage laws. By issuing this request and clearly stating that the ALSEPs are, for the most part, still active, NASA is saying that the Apollo sites and their equipment are not "abandoned in place". And thus, are not legally available to be claimed as legitimate salvage.

Sooner or later, somebody is going to get the bright idea of doing a real-life version of the old Andy Griffith TV show, "Salvage 1". Either manned or, more likely, unmanned.

This statement at least gives NASA some legal recourse if an ALSEP abruptly shows up at Southeby's. Or, for that matter, on eBay.



Chris Lopes said...

I think the landing areas should qualify as historical sites that are off limits to scavengers. The declaration though would have more weight though if the US could declare the sites sovereign (as in the property of the USA) territory. Unfortunately there are a couple of treaties on the books that make that impossible, so we're going to have to depend on the kindness of strangers to protect those historical landmarks. All in all though, it's an interesting problem to have to deal with.