Sens. Cruz, Peters' Bipartisan Legislation to Protect the Apollo Landing Sites Signed Into Law
President Trump signed into law a bipartisan bill sponsored by U.S. Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and I that will protect artifacts left in the Apollo landing sites on the Moon. The One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act 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.
Upon signing of the bill, I said:
"I applaud the President for signing into law this bipartisan legislation that will safeguard the Apollo sites and artifacts. This bill will rightly protect our history of American exceptionalism and ingenuity in space. I will continue working to ensure the U.S. remains a leader in space exploration."
Sen. Peters added:
"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. 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."
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said:
"As we go forward to the Moon with the Artemis Program, NASA has been clear that we must do so sustainably. 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."
Dr. A.W. "Tony" England, an astronaut during the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs and Professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, said:
"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. 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."
Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Stafford, USAF (Ret.), Commander, Apollo 10, said:
"As one of the original Apollo astronauts, I saw Apollo bring out the best of America and the best of humanity. 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."
Sens. Peters and I along with the other bill authors worked closely with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine who negotiated a 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.
This legislation directs NASA to require future moon activities to follow its preservation recommendations and honors 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.
The legislation was spearheaded through the U.S. House of Representatives by Committee on Science, Space & Technology Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Subcommittee on Space Chairwoman Kendra Horn (D-Okla.) and Ranking Member Brian Babin (R-Texas).
I have long fought to preserve critical history from the Apollo missions. In August 2018, Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Bill Nelson (D Fla.) and I introduced the Hidden Figures Way Designation Act in honor of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson who were featured in the movie Hidden Figures, as well as all women who have dedicated their lives to honorably serving their country, advancing equality, and contributing to the space program of the United States. In June 2019, I participated with Administrator Bridenstine, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, and author Margot Lee Shetterly in a ceremony designating the street in front of the NASA Headquarters as Hidden Figures Way.