12.16.20

House Passes Peters Bipartisan Legislation to Protect the Apollo Landing Sites

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) to permanently protect the Apollo landing sites on the moon. The One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act, which Peters introduced with U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), would enact first-of-its-kind legal protections for the Apollo sites by making NASA’s preservation recommendations a requirement for future activities on the Moon.

“As a child, I watched the achievements of the Apollo missions with excitement about what is possible when we come together with a common goal,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “I was proud to author this bipartisan legislation to preserve for all of humanity the incredible achievements of the Apollo astronauts on the Moon—and also to honor the 400,000 people around the world who made it possible—including the now famous African American “Hidden Figures” who were crucial in calculating trajectories that got astronauts to and from the Moon.

“As we look forward to new expeditions to the moon and placing American boots where they have never gone before on Mars, it is crucial to safeguard the history of American exceptionalism and ingenuity in space, from Apollo 11 to the upcoming Artemis program missions,” said Senator Cruz. “As the chairman of the Aviation and Space subcommittee and as a Texan, I am honored to help preserve these historic human heritage sites, while continuing to maintain a dominant presence in low-Earth orbit and beyond.”

“As we go forward to the Moon with the Artemis Program, NASA has been clear that we must do so sustainably,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “As part of the Artemis Accords agreements signed with partner nations, NASA has emphasized that protecting historically significant sites is critical, and I applaud the leaders of this legislation for their commitment to ensuring that future lunar science and exploration is done in a safe and transparent manner.”

“I am pleased that the House passed the ‘One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage In Space Act’ today,” said Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. “Apollo remains a beacon of inspiration and a symbol of what we, as a nation, can accomplish. I have long advocated for the preservation of the Apollo artifacts, which hold deep cultural, historical, and scientific value for not only the United States, but for all of humanity. It is important that NASA and the United States lead the way in guiding responsible behavior in space, and this legislation to preserve our human heritage in space is, itself, one small step in practicing that leadership.”

“The Apollo landing sites mark one of humanity's greatest achievements: the first time we were able to do more than look up at the sky, but actually leave our planet and visit another world,” said House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas. “The One Small Step Act maintains these historic sites while encouraging the spirit of exploration that got us to the Moon. I'm proud to sponsor this bill to honor our historical achievements, and I look forward to the time when we can return humans to the Moon and continue the mission of discovery and learning that the Apollo astronauts began.”

“As a former astronaut in the Apollo program, it is fitting that one of humanities’ greatest collective achievements should be preserved for future generations to learn about and be inspired by,” said Dr. A.W. “Tony” England, an astronaut during the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs and Professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. “I am grateful for the efforts of Senators Peters and Cruz as well as Congressmen Johnson, Lucas, Horn, and Babin for their bill that will honor Apollo’s invaluable legacy of innovation, collaboration, and determination and preserve it for future generations.”

“As one of the original Apollo astronauts, I saw Apollo bring out the best of America and the best of humanity,” said Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Stafford, USAF (Ret.), Commander, Apollo 10. “The efforts of Senators Peters and Cruz and Congressmen Johnson, Lucas, Horn, and Babin will help ensure the achievements of the Apollo program serve as a beacon of inspiration—not just for America but for people all over the world for generations to come.”

The legislation directs NASA to require future moon activities to follow its preservation recommendations, 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.

Peters and the other bill authors worked closely with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine who negotiated similar provision in the Artemis Accords and expressed his support for protecting the historical lunar sites in a 2019 Senate hearing—just before the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing.

The bill reflects an agreement with the House authors of a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives: Committee on Science, Space & Technology Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) as well as Subcommittee on Space Chairwoman Kendra Horn (D-OK) and Ranking Member Brian Babin (R-TX). The final version of the bill now heads back to the Senate, which passed Peters’ original bipartisan bill in July 2019, for approval.

Peters has long championed efforts in Congress to support American space exploration. This past September, Peters’ bipartisan bill to strengthen the nation’s ability to predict and mitigate severe space weather events and mitigate their harmful impacts on Earth was signed into law by the President. In addition, Peters’ bipartisan bill to help authorize and set priorities for NASA and the nation’s space exploration mission was signed into law in July 2017.

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