NASA’s Apollo Landing Sites ’Off Limits’
"Keep Off My Lawn" : Old Man NASA insists on restrictions for any would-be moon trespassers. Darn kids! Look but don’t touch! Better yet, don’t even look.
"Last week, the Google Lunar X Prize Foundation announced that it will recognize the guidelines NASA has established to protect historic sites on the moon. For the 26 teams currently vying for prize, this means their attempts to land on and rove around the moon have to stay clear of the Apollo landing sites." Source
NASA is apparently claiming dominion over the moon, and has offered guidelines to safeguard the historic sites from any "Space Faring Entities" (their words) and any ongoing or future exploits on the moon. NASA hasn’t any intentions (or present capabilities) of going back to the moon to protect their turf, but was obviously compelled to make their position known in the face of 26 privately funded teams contending for the Google prize.
"The Google Lunar X PRIZE will award $30 million total in prizes. First place will go to a privately-funded team that builds a rover which lands successfully land on the moon, explores it by moving at least one third of a mile and returns high-definition video and imagery to Earth. Additional bonus prizes will be awarded for photographing a Lunar Heritage, Apollo or Surveyor spacecraft site. The contest ends whenever all prizes are claimed or at the end of 2015."
To view the full set of guidelines, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/JDYo9v
The new guidelines restrict low altitude fly-bys or overflights of the areas, as well as boundaries of approach on the surface.
It will be a tricky maneuver for the teams to stay as far away as possible from the original Apollo or Surveyor sites while still getting photographs of them. And why shouldn’t they take photos of these acclaimed sites - NASA itself has had 40 years to present recent photographs of the sacred territory through many means, and has come up with not much more than blurry, distant shots of implied ’landing sites’ and alleged ’foot paths’.
Some naturally question NASA’s motivations in making these guidelines. Are they to protect the sites, or to protect a myth?
It was not long ago that NASA itself announced that it had ’accidentally’ completely destroyed the original footage of the most important event in human scientific achievement - the moon landing tapes. Oops! Yet countries and companies that are even now making attempts to orbit and one day land on the moon are falling under the ’restrictions’ of this sometimes bumbling space administration.
Further, NASA’s own LCROSS mission employed a ’kinetic weapon’ to confirm the presence or absence of water on the moon, without first completing an Environmental Impact Statement, and in what some would claim to be in direct violation of established Space Treaty law.
In an article that examines the issue, Gizmodo’s Adrien Covert questions that while the significance of historical sites on the moon is plain, is it realistic for NASA to assume these sites will go undisturbed in perpetuity?
In all, this does raise again the debate of who actually owns the moon (or any space bodies), and what rights do governments, corporations, or even humanity itself have in cordoning off ’no-go’ areas, or in establishing titles and deeds, or in announcing mineral rights?
It will be interesting to discover who wins the LunarXPrize competition, and see what revelations will come with the photographs that will surely follow.
By Elizabeth Leafloor, RedIceCreations.com
Top Image: Photos: NASA,, Edited: EL RIC 2012
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