Peters Spoke on Senate Floor About Bill to Enact First-Of-Its-Kind Protections for the Apollo Sites
WASHINGTON, DC – In advance of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing Saturday, the U.S. Senate today passed bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) to permanently protect the Apollo landing sites on the moon. Peters spoke on the Senate floor about the One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act, which would enact first-of-its-kind legal protections for the Apollo sites from intentional and unintentional disturbances by codifying existing NASA preservation recommendations. Earlier this week, companion bipartisan legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Committee on Science, Space & Technology Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK).
Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Space and Aviation, said during his floor speech, “Here in the Senate – I was proud to introduce legislation with Senator Ted Cruz that would establish the first-of-its-kind federal protections for the Apollo landing sites. Our bill, the One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act, would permanently protect the Apollo landing sites from intentional and unintentional disruptions by future Moon missions.
“Mr. President – 50 years ago Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left a plaque on the lunar surface. On that plaque is a map of the Earth and the following words:
HERE MEN FROM THE PLANET EARTH FIRST SET FOOT UPON THE MOON
JULY 1969 A.D.
WE CAME IN PEACE FOR ALL MANKIND
“Mr. President – our grandchildren’s grandchildren should have an opportunity to observe this plaque.
“I thank my colleagues for taking this small step with me to ensure that the opportunity will remain for generations to come and that the spirit of Apollo – of ingenuity – of cooperation – and of peace – will inspire generations to come.”
“I applaud the Senate’s passage of the bipartisan bill Senator Peters and I authored and introduced,” said Senator Cruz. “As we commemorate and remember the historic achievement of the Apollo 11 mission, this bill will rightly protect the Apollo sites and artifacts by mandating those who receive U.S. government licenses for lunar and near-lunar activities abide by NASA’s recommendations on how to protect lunar artifacts. As we continue our efforts for further lunar exploration, we must ensure the preservation of our important history on the Moon.”
The legislation includes an enforcement mechanism to impose fines on entities that breach NASA’s preservation recommendations, calls for an international adoption of the protections, and honors the over 400,000 scientists, designers, and researchers who contributed to the Apollo programs, including NASA’s “Hidden Figures” like Katherine Johnson – an African American mathematician who worked at NASA for 35 years and calculated the trajectory of the Apollo 11 flight to the moon as well the trajectories for the spaceflights of astronauts John Glenn and Alan Shepard.
In a Space and Aviation Subcommittee hearing in May, Peters questioned NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who expressed his support for protecting historical lunar sites.
Peters has long championed efforts in Congress to support American space exploration. In 2017, bipartisan legislation Peterscoauthored that authorizes and sets priorities for NASA and the nation’s space exploration mission was signed into law. Peters also introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen the nation’s ability to predict severe space weather events and mitigate their harmful impacts on Earth. That legislation recently advanced out of the Senate Commerce Committee.