One astronaut’s trash is another state’s treasure. That’s the message from California as the Golden State officially registered a collection of 106 objects left behind on the moon by the Apollo 11 mission as a state historical resource. The collection encompasses about 5,000 pounds of objects, including the bottom stage of the lunar lander and the American flag planted on the moon’s surface by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
And it’s not just the tools and the flag–California has also claimed custody of bags of human waste left behind.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports on the logic behind the unusual decision:
The first landing on the moon by humans, on July 20, 1969, was “one of the most historical events in the last 100 to 200 years,” said Jay Correia, a historian with the Historical Resources Commission. California had a major role in developing the technology that made the trip to the moon possible.
The new designations applies to everything left on the moon by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. The astronauts jettisoned tools and waste materials to make it easier for their landing module to take off from the moon, and to account for the weight of the moon rocks they’d collected.
The BBC reports:
However, the moon’s surface is not included in the designation, because under international law no country or state can make a claim to it. The move aims to protect the site in the face of possible lunar missions in the future by other nations. Several other US states which were involved in the Apollo project are also reportedly seeking to protect the landing site.
Historians are hopeful that Tranquility Base, where the Eagle lunar module landed in 1969, will eventually be designated a United Nations World Heritage Site.
Here’s a video that has original footage from the moon landing. So even though news is breaking that the Obama administration’s 2011 NASA budget cancels plans for a 2020 return to the moon, at least you can re-live the moment when man first set foot on the lunar surface, and be comforted by the fact that all the moon junk is in good hands.
DISCOVER: Ten Great Views–-and Memories–-From the Moon, a photo gallery of the Apollo mission
80beats: Obama’s NASA Budget: So Long, Moon Missions; Hello Private Spaceflight
80beats: 40 Years After Moon Landing, a Question Remains: What Next?
80beats: 40 Years Later, Remembering the Boldness of Apollo 8
80beats: Lunar X Prize Competitor Hopes to Send a Rover Back to Tranquility Base