DALLAS — It might not get as many visitors as Yellowstone National Park, but Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, wants a national historic park on the moon.
The word “park” can be misleading — the legislation she proposed would protect artifacts left on the moon from Apollo missions 11 through 17. No ground on the moon would be included, although the bill requires the nomination of Neil Armstrong’s first footprints on the moon for a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which offers protection to threatened sites.
“In light of other nations and private entities developing the ability to go to the Moon, the United States must be proactive in protecting artifacts left by the seven Apollo lunar landings,” Johnson said in a written statement.
The bill, which was introduced in the House on Monday, is sponsored by Johnson, the ranking Democrat of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, and fellow committee member Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md.
A spokeswoman for the Democrats on the committee said those who take or damage artifacts on the moon would be subject to punishment under the same laws as those who take or damage property in national parks.
Obviously, such a bill would be hard to enforce and hard to protect. Johnson admits it sounds far-fetched to have a national historical park on the moon, but believes legal protection for the objects there is important.
“I don’t think that there is anything far-fetched about protecting and preserving such irreplaceableitems and such a hallowed place,” she said in a statement.
The committee spokesperson also said the head of the Russian space agency, Vladimir Popovkin, has called for protection of relics from the first manned missions to the moon.
The bill has been referred to both the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee.