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Tuesday, 02 February 2010 01:43

Moon gets museum but probably not NASA astronauts

According to California, it has designated numerous objects left on the Moon in the 1960s and 70s as a state historical resource. Since it looks like U.S. astronauts won't be going to the Moon any time in the near future, articles left on the Moon will at least be protected from commercialism.

The January 30, 2010 San Francisco Chronicle article 'History on the Moon' states that 'California laid a historical claim to over 100 objects left behind on the moon Friday when the eight-member California State Historical Resources Commission voted unanimously to name the objects an official State historical resource.'

This action was taken based on California's active part is assuring that 12 U.S. astronauts landed and walked on the Moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It expects that other actively-participating states in the U.S. manned lunar expeditions, such as Texas, Florida, New Mexico, and Alabama will do likewise in order to preserve the historical importance and significance of these items left on the Moon.

U.S. historian Jay Correia (California Historical Resources Commission, stated, "By international treaty, no one can lay claim to the moon ...' however such objects of world significance need to be protected ''¦ so they won't be brought back by somebody and put on the Internet for sale '¦.'

He added, 'At some point, we have to protect these artifacts." [San Francisco Chronicle]

Some of the stuff left on the Moon by the Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, for instance, was a seismic detector, U.S. flag, commemorative plaque, arm rests from their cockpit seats, hammer, cameras, tethers, antennas, food containers, and bags of human waste.

Page two continues.

Most of these items were left on the Moon because they had to be ejected in order to accommodate Moon rocks that were returned to Earth for analysis.

In fact, this action by California is part of a larger plan to make Tranquility Base, the lunar landing site for the Apollo 11 mission, a National Historic Landmark and a U.N. World Heritage Site.

According to international law, it is illegal to claim possession of the Moon itself, or any parts of the Moon, but it is not illegal to lay claim to objects left on the Moon by human travelers.

Such actions by the California Commission are meant to help preserve these historic objects from being grabbed by individuals in the future and sold for monetary gain.

California played a pivotal role in the development of the U.S. Apollo program, making contributions from many different space organizations such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology.

In a related story about going to the Moon, both past, present, and future, it will be announced today (Monday, February 1, 2010) that the President Barack Obama Administration will recommend (at least according to rumors circulating around in space) to the U.S. Congress that NASA not go back to the Moon as originally planned by the year 2020.

Page three continues with this part of the article on the future of NASA's manned space program.

According to the February 1, 2010 Washington Post article NASA budget for 2011 eliminates funds for manned lunar missions, 'With the release Monday of President Obama's budget request, NASA will finally get the new administration's marching orders, and there won't be anything in there about flying to the moon.'

The Washington Post articles implies that the 2011 budget request from the White House will ''¦ kill the Constellation program that called for a return to the moon by 2020' and be the ''¦ death knell for the Ares 1 rocket.'

According to the 1.28.2010 Business New article NASA to Get $6 Billion to Outsource Crew Ferry, 'In total, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration would receive $100 billion over five years under President Barack Obama's fiscal year 2011 budget, the official said.'

Former astronaut and U.S. physicist Sally Ride commented on this statement within the Business Week article. Ride stated, 'My initial impression is that this is a real significant indication of support for NASA in a time of tight budgets.'

However, the amount of money that supposedly will be budgeted to NASA over the next ten years (according to Business Week) is about $55 billion less than what is needed to send U.S. astronauts to the Moon by the beginning of the 2020 decade.

The budget request will (supposedly) also ask for active participation from the United States for the International Space Station through at least 2020, which is an increase in five years from previous statements.

And, the budget request from the Obama Administration is expected to increase development of commercial spacecraft to take astronauts to and from the Space Station.

The White House budget recommendation will have to be approved by members of the U.S. Congress.

Page four concludes.

It is expected that much debate will occur over whether to accept or reject President Obama's plans for NASA.

So, Monday, February 1, 2010, will be a big day for U.S. space exploration. Will we go to the Moon, stay at the Space Station, or just continue to dream about past glories and successes?

Whatever will be decided, a clear route to space needs to be provided by NASA from the U.S. government.

Over the past year, that guidance and direction has not been provided.

Consequently, NASA continues to spend money on what it thinks it will do in the future, but without any real idea if it will be allowed to do such activities.

At least, if a budget is finalized by the White House and the U.S. Congress, NASA can finally get down to business with doing something in the future with respect to manned space flight and exploration.

All the while, many other countries have expressly stated plans to make manned space exploration a priority'”including going to the Moon for the first time with their own astronauts.

And, they have dedicated money (and stuck by those monetary promises) to make those dreams and goals come true.

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