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The ethics of treading on Neil Armstrong's footprints

Space Policy
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.spacepol.2004.08.005
  • Law
  • Philosophy


Abstract The Moon landings of the Apollo programme irrevocably changed the way we see ourselves. Most significantly, this was the first time that humans had set foot on a celestial body other than Earth. The program has left a number of sites on the Moon as well as on Earth. While the management of the sites and artefacts on Earth is fairly straightforward as they are subject to national heritage legislation, it is not so simple with the sites and artefacts on the lunar surface. Moreover, the sites on the Moon differ in one unique aspect from all other heritage sites on Earth: the absence of a lunar atmosphere of any note means that all foot- and track prints of the astronauts are preserved providing a total record of the pioneering phases of human exploration of the Moon. The nascent developments of space tourism, including proposals for lunar heritage tourism, however, threaten the preservation of these traces on the Moon. This paper discusses the terrestrial and in particular the extraterrestrial heritage of the Apollo programme. Set out are the management ethics that need to apply on the lunar surface if this unique heritage is to have a future.

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