R. Prasad writes in the Hindu:
No-fly zones will come into effect on the moon for the very first time by the end of this month! Why, even buffer zones that spacecraft may have to avoid will come into existence. The reason: avoiding any spraying of rocket exhaust or dust onto certain historical sites and artifacts on the moon.
The historical sites are of course the Apollo landing sites and artifacts present on the moon. And the “recommendations” are for preserving and protecting these historical sites. There are currently more than three dozen historical sites that preserve the more than four-decade-old remains.
“Apollo 11 and 17 sites [will] remain off-limits, with ground-travel buffers of 75 meters and 225 meters from each respective lunar lander,” states the July 20 guidelines of NASA. Science journal had obtained the guidelines.
According to Science, by the end of this month NASA is expected to come up with a set of “recommendations” for spacecraft and astronauts visiting the “U.S. government property on the moon.” Of course, these recommendations will not be legally binding as the 1967 Outer Space Treaty makes it clear that the lunar surface has no owner.
Despite the lack of ownership, NASA is hopeful that other countries will respect the U.S. sentiments. Incidentally, the restriction list contains more than the historical sites. For instance, the list includes studying discarded food and abandoned astronaut feces.
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