The next U.S. national park may be out of this world ― literally.
U.S. Congress members Donna Edwards and Eddie Bernice Johnson on Tuesday proposed legislature aimed at establishing a national park on the surface of the moon to commemorate NASA’s 1969-1972 Apollo program.
“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,” said the bill, named Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act.
The “Apollo Lunar Landing Sites National Historical Park” would comprise landing sites and the artifacts left by the lunar spaceflight program. The U.S. flags, the memorial to astronauts who died during the Apollo 15 mission, and golf balls hit by Apollo 14 commander Alan Shepard in 1971 are some of the items expected to be included in the park.
The bill proposes to establish the sites as a unit of the national park system within a year of the law’s enactment. The park would operate through donations from individuals, organizations, foreign governments or international bodies.
The proposed bill also said the U.S. interior secretary should submit the Apollo 11 landing site to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, for designation as a World Heritage Site.
The legislature appears to be a response to recent reports that some countries may attempt to commercially exploit the moon.
While the 1967 Outer Space Treaty prevents countries from claiming sovereignty over celestial bodies, it allows member states to withdraw with a year’s notice, providing no real binding power over signatory states.
The U.S.’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration has yet to comment on the bill.
Edwards, a ranking member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, submitted separate legislation on Monday to boost NASA’s budget over the next three years.
By Yoon Min-sik (firstname.lastname@example.org