It would be the conspiracy theorists who believe the moon landing never happened that would be first in line, I would think, for a commercial trip to the moon, to witness the site for themselves and analyze whether it was all set up or not. However, NASA is less concerned with the conspiracy theorists than the annoying, overexcited tourists who want to walk in the footsteps of Neil Armstrong, or to take away precious relics of the untouched celestial object away with them.
While the prospect of moon tourism is probably still some way off, NASA is determined to not let this attraction begin badly, like many of Earth’s most prized cultural heritage objects such as the Rosetta Stone or the Pyramids of Giza, where initial tourists caused irreparable damage touching and breathing on them.
Objects left behind are, indeed, the property of the United States, but the surface itself does not belong to any one jurisdiction according to international treaties. Google’s Lunar X Prize, a competition to award the first privately funded team to land a probe on the moon with $30 million, requested guidelines for treatments of the Apollo landing site. With the team of anthropologists and archaeologists from NASA they drew up the NASA Recommendations for Space Faring Entities, which indeed cannot be enforced according to international treaties, but Google is currently honour-bound to follow them.
However, if NASA can get the Tranquility Base, the landing site of Apollo 11, recognized as a national landmark, it will then become eligible to be included as a UNSECO World Heritage site, protecting it from those unruly tourists with hard and fast rules.
Of course, the conspiracy theorists might say that it’s all pointless anyway – the site will only be built once the tourism starts right? And made to look older than it is…but I’ll leave that to them to explain.
[Via The Mary Sue]