A group called For All Moonkind is working to preserve the six Apollo moon landing sites as international cultural treasures that celebrate the achievements of our shared human heritage.
According to their website, “Each of the Apollo Lunar Landing Sites is evidence of humanity’s first tentative steps off our planet Earth and to the stars. They mark an achievement unparalleled in human history, and one that is common to all humankind.”
The non-profit organization was founded by Michelle Hanlon, a co-founder of the company ABH Aerospace, LLC, and her husband Tim. Supported by a diverse, international board of directors and an advisory council with deep ties to the aerospace industry, they are modeling their work on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage Convention, whose mission is to preserve sites of cultural and natural significance here on Earth, and who have preserved sites as diverse as the archaeological site of Delphi in Greece, Mount Kenya National Park, and the Great Wall of China.
There are six sites on the moon where six separate Apollo missions landed from the United States and a total of 12 astronauts walked and performed their missions from the year 1969 until 1972, when the Apollo program was terminated. These sites have flags intentionally planted, gear left behind carelessly, and even the astronauts’ footprints remain undisturbed.
When she spoke at Icarus Interstellar’s Starship Congress 2017, Hanlon asserted that it is important to start now. She pointed to a coming explosion in private moon exploration and China’s Jade Rabbit Moon Mission of 2013, as evidence that there is likely to be a resurgence of interest in moon exploration activity.
For All Moonkind will work with the United Nations, international leaders, and space agencies to preserve the sites for posterity. They are currently working on a protection plan, which they will deliver to the United Nations in the summer of 2018. Hanlon said in an interview: “Our legal team is going to draft, what we are calling right now, a ‘Convention on Human Heritage in Outer Space.’ With that convention, we hope to get the international community excited about preserving our footsteps into space because we are an exploring species and this is our first exploration off Earth.”
The sites currently are not formally protected, but the United States is not well-positioned to do so on its own. To simply declare these areas to be “off limits” to other moon visitors and to be under U.S. protection would violate the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which affirms that no nation can claim territory on the moon (or any other planet, asteroid, or cosmic object). Consequently, international cooperation is required to preserve these sites, and no organization is better suited than the UN’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
As the group’s website says, “If we cannot achieve peace on Earth, certainly we can work together to preserve peace in the heavens.”