A national park on the moon?July 9, 2013
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On December 11, 1972, astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, commander, makes a short checkout of the lunar rover during the early part of the first Apollo 17 extravehicular activity at the Taurus-Littrow landing site. This view of the "stripped down" rover is prior to loading up. Equipment later loaded onto the rover included the ground-controlled television assembly, the lunar communications relay unit, hi-gain antenna, low-gain antenna, aft tool pallet, lunar tools and scientific gear. This photograph was taken by scientist-astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt, lunar module pilot. The mountain in the right background is the east end of South Massif. While astronauts Cernan and Schmitt descended in the Lunar Module "Challenger" to explore the moon, astronaut Ronald E. Evans, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules "America" in lunar orbit.
(CNN) -- Yorktown. Independence Hall. The moon?
The site of man's first lunar landing could join battlefields, presidential birthplaces and other major American historical sites on a roster of protected places if two Democrats have their way.
U.S. Reps. Donna Edwards of Maryland and Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas have proposed legislation that would designate artifacts at the site of American moon landings as comprising a National Historical Park, citing potential commercial traffic on the moon that could damage the areas.
Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first to walk on the Lunar surface in July 1969.
Subsequent moon flights landed in other areas and equipment from all of the space missions, which ended in 1973, remain on the moon's surface. These include the spidery bottom halves of lunar landers, flags and even a moon car.
"As commercial enterprises and foreign nations acquire the ability to land on the moon it is necessary to protect the Apollo landing sites for posterity; and establishing the Historical Park under this Act will expand and enhance the protection and preservation of the Apollo lunar landing sites and provide for greater recognition and public understanding of this singular achievement in American history," the legislation reads.
The bill specifies that only the artifacts left behind by NASA missions would be included in the park - not the lunar surface itself, which doesn't belong to the United States or any nation.
It also opens the door for corporate donations and contributions from foreign governments to maintain the proposed park.
Both Edwards and Johnson are members of the House Committee on Science and Technology.