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Apollo mission sites could become a lunar national park

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The landing site of NASA's Apollo missions may be transformed into a popular tourist destination, if a new bill in Congress is ratified. Two democratic congresswomen are seeking to designate a national park on the moon, protecting abandoned Apollo artifacts, such as the landing gear, roving hardware, and the famous footprints.

The last manned lunar landing was in 1972, and no human has stepped foot on the surface of the moon since. But that might not be the case much longer as other countries and commercial space programs seek to replicate NASA's past successes.

The bill, dubbed the "Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act," was designed to specifically account for public access and tourism. Both visitor and administrative services are to be designated "within reasonable proximity to the Historical Park," and hint at a possible future of moon landing tours and public amenities.

The park is specifically designed to attract tourists

The wording of the bill carefully takes into account the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which prevents countries from staking claim to any part of the moon. Instead, the individual items left from the various Apollo missions, not the land, will be considered a national park, thus circumventing the territory issue while still protecting the historic items. Additionally, the lunar landing site would be submitted to the United Nations in a move to seek designation as World Heritage Site, thus providing global protection.

The national park proposal may seem unusual, but commercial lunar travel may be possible in the not-too-distant future. Golden Spike, a private space travel company, has expressed a commitment to establishing commercial flights to the moon by 2020, and other space programs are also nearing lunar travel capabilities. The Apollo 11 landing site is an artifact from the first human contact with a celestial body, and seeking to preserve the location prior to an influx of traffic may be a smart move.