The Apollo 11 Lunar Module landed on the Moon, on the Sea Of Tranquility on July 20, 1969. Undeniably one of the most significant events of human history. A bill before the US Congress proposes to make the Lunar landing site a National Monument and the surrounds a National Park. The bill, introduced by Congresswoman Donna F Edwards (D-MD), to “Establish the Apollo Lunar Landing Sites National Historic Park on the Moon”, HR2617 proposes to “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.”
Detractors and naysayers are already disparaging the idea with the usual ill-considered excuses, calling it a ‘theme park’. “Think of the children!” They are crying, and “Think of the environment!” By which they mean, think of the cost.
Their first complaint is that the high cost of creating such a monument, which would serve the very few people who could actually afford to make the trip to the moon to see it, would be better spent here. Fixing things like poverty, education and healthcare. Even if the bill were not enacted, the money would not then be re-directed to poverty and healthcare. It’s more likely to get leeched away like the 30 trillion dollars spent on oil wars over the last 30 years. An astronomical sum which, if spent on research into energy and space exploration would probably have made fossil fuels redundant.
If humankind has any destiny other than the futile grasping after wealth, it is in the expansion into space. Eventually, be it 1000 or 5000 years, when humankind has grasped that destiny, even the greatest of today’s children will be long forgotten. All their travail unremembered. They will be dust. What will be remembered, what will inspire future generations, will be those first tentative steps into space. The petty amount spent now to insure that heritage is insignificant. Won’t such a project also inspire and unify today’s children? More so than what we offer them now? A patriotism of hate, vacuous avarice, the indulgence of oblivion and popcorn? Yes, let us think of today’s children, and also tomorrow’s, and tomorrow’s, and tomorrow’s.
The other even more ill-considered argument is that we should conserve the moon’s environment. That construction of an habitation complex and lunar tourism to the historic site will be damaging. This knee-jerk conservationist reaction is worse than Luddite thinking. It is moronic. The moon is dust, littered with rocks. There is no atmosphere. Nothing lives there, until we bring life to it. What destiny can be greater than in our own small way to bring more life to the universe? Preserving our heritage to inspire future generations is the next small step in that long-promised great leap forward.