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Maryland Lawmaker Proposes National Park On The Moon

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The park would include all areas of the moon where astronauts touched the lunar surface during the Apollo missions.
NASA
The park would include all areas of the moon where astronauts touched the lunar surface during the Apollo missions.

At first glance, proposed legislation from Reps. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) sounds normal enough — the pair is calling for a new national historic park to commemorate one of the most significant happenings in American history. What makes the proposal slightly out of this world is that the park would be placed on the surface of the moon.

As originally reported by The Hill, the bill introduced by Edwards, the ranking Democrat on the Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, includes a measure that will establish a national park at the site of the historic Apollo mission landings between 1969 and 1972.

The reasoning is explained in the text of H.R. 2617: "As commercial enterprises and foreign nationals acquire the ability to land on the Moon, it is necessary to protect the Apollo lunar landing sites for posterity."

"It sounds a little silly on the face of it — the idea of creating a national park on the moon. After all, the United States doesn't really own territory on the moon," says Alex Bolton, senior staff writer for The Hill. "What Edwards is talking about is making the artifacts that were left behind — the lunar modules — part of a national park."

Under the legislation, joint authority for the proposed park would fall between the Department of the Interior and NASA.

"There are other members of Congress who have proposed similar things," Bolton says. "Bill Posey (R-Fla.) introduced the Reasserting the American Leadership in Space Act, which would direct NASA come up with a plan to return to the moon and develop a sustained human presence by 2022. And Newt Gingrich during the 2012 presidential election proposed a lunar colony on the moon. While he was laughed at, it didn't prove fatal to his campaign."

Donations and cooperative agreements would be accepted as well, in order to "provide visitor services and administrative facilities within reasonable proximity to the Historic Park." It is unclear at present what constitutes "reasonable proximity" to the moon.

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