America’s Next National Park: The Moon?
From the National Park of American Samoa to the Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska, it’s safe to say the National Park System has some pretty far-flung entries in its register.
But if remoteness is the game, a new bill introduced to the House of Representatives on Monday would leave those parks in the lunar dust. That’s right: if passed, this bill would create a national park on the moon.
The Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act (H.R. 2617) would create Apollo Lunar Landing Sites National Historical Park. As it says in the title, the bill would protect the “artifacts on the surface of the Moon” associated with the six successful Apollo missions of 1969 to 1972, and debris from the failed Apollo 13 mission.
The park would be jointly administered by the Secretary of the Interior, who oversees the National Park Service, and the head administrator of NASA.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas). It's been referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
The move appears to be legal according to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, to which the U.S. is a signatory. According to the treaty, no nation may claim celestial territory, but anything a country launches into space it “shall retain jurisdiction and control over […] while [the object is] in outer space or on a celestial body.” But I’ll leave the fine print to the space lawyers.
No word yet on if there will be an admission fee.