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January 22, 2018

UN told to protect moon as private firms prepare first mining missions, experts warn

Buzz Aldrin is pictured on the moon in 1969. AGENCIES
Buzz Aldrin is pictured on the moon in 1969. AGENCIES

Forty-eight years ago today, Neil Armstrong made history as the first human to step foot on the moon, followed minutes later by pilot ‘Buzz’ Aldrin.

As space agencies and private companies around the world once again turn their sights to the moon, experts warn that the precious artifacts they bring back must be protected, or risk setting a ‘dangerous precedent for potential moon scavengers.’

In a ‘sobering wake-up call,’ a sample bag containing traces of moon dust from the historic Apollo 11 mission sold today for $1.8 million, despite efforts by NASA to stop it – and now, a non-profit is calling on the United Nations to intervene before it’s too late.

The organization, called For All Moonkind, will present its plan at the Starship Congress 2017 in Monterey, California August 7-9.

It’s hoped that they’ll be able to obtain UN protection of the six Apollo Lunar Landing sites, along with the related artifacts.

‘We formed For All Moonkind with a mission to ensure the Apollo landing sites be recognized by the United Nations for their outstanding value to humanity and protected for posterity,’ said co-founder and space lawyer, Michelle Hanlon.

‘The decision by Nancy Lee Carlson and Sotheby’s to auction off an Apollo 11 Lunar Sample Return Decontamination Bag is a sobering wake-up call.

‘The bag belongs in a museum, so the entire world can share in and celebrate the universal human achievement it represents.’

In recent years, several countries have revealed plans to send astronauts back to the moon.

Among them, China says it’s already making the ‘preliminary’ preparations.

The United States expressed similar interests earlier this year, issuing orders for NASA’s top staff to assess the feasibility of sending astronauts aboard the first mission of the Orion spacecraft, slated for 2018.

But, the experts decided they would be sticking to the plan for an unmanned mission, which has since been pushed back to 2019.

Even private companies are hoping to get involved in the moon race.

Florida-based Moon Express revealed this month that it’s developing a fleet of low-cost robotic spacecraft that can be assembled like Legos, according to Reuters.

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