01.05.21

Peters Bipartisan Legislation to Protect the Apollo Landing Sites Signed Into Law

DETROIT, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters’ (MI) bipartisan bill to permanently protect the Apollo landing sites on the moon was signed into law. The One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act, which Peters introduced with U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), will 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.

“The Apollo missions were not only one of the most important scientific achievements in human history – they represented to all of mankind what is possible when hardworking, dedicated people come together to accomplish a common goal,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “Over 400,000 people around the world made these missions possible, and their contributions must be protected for all mankind. I am proud that this bipartisan legislation to preserve and honor their achievements has been enacted into law.”

“I applaud the President for signing into law Sen. Peters’ and my bill to safeguard the Apollo sites and artifacts,” said Senator Cruz. “This bill will rightly protect our history of American exceptionalism and ingenuity in space. I’ll continue working to ensure the U.S. remains a leader in space exploration.”

“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.”

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 legislation was spearheaded through the U.S. House of Representatives in the last Congress by Committee on Science, Space & Technology Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), Subcommittee on Space Chairwoman Kendra Horn (D-OK) and Ranking Member Brian Babin (R-TX).

“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.”

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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