The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) to permanently protect the Apollo landing sites on the moon. The One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act would enact first-of-its-kind legal protections for the Apollo sites by making NASA’s preservation recommendations a requirement for future activities on the Moon.
The bill reflects an agreement with the authors of a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives: Committee on Science, Space & Technology Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), as well as Subcommittee on Space Chairwoman Kendra Horn (D-Okla.) and Ranking Member Brian Babin (R-Texas). The final version of the bill now heads back to the Senate, which passed Sen. Cruz’s original bipartisan bill in July 2019, for approval.
Read Sens. Cruz and Peters’ original bipartisan bill here.
Upon House passage of the One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act, Sen. Cruz said:
“As we look forward to new expeditions to the moon and placing American boots where they have never gone before on Mars, it is crucial to safeguard the history of American exceptionalism and ingenuity in space, from Apollo 11 to the upcoming Artemis program missions. As the chairman of the Aviation and Space subcommittee and as a Texan, I am honored to help preserve these historic human heritage sites, while continuing to maintain a dominant presence in low-Earth orbit and beyond.”
Sen. Peters said:
“As a child, I watched the achievements of the Apollo missions with excitement about what is possible when we come together with a common goal. I was proud to author this bipartisan legislation to preserve for all of humanity the incredible achievements of the Apollo astronauts on the Moon—and also to honor the 400,000 people around the world who made it possible—including the now famous African American “Hidden Figures” who were crucial in calculating trajectories that got astronauts to and from the Moon.”
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said:
“As we go forward to the Moon with the Artemis Program, NASA has been clear that we must do so sustainably. As part of the Artemis Accords agreements signed with partner nations, NASA has emphasized that protecting historically significant sites is critical, and I applaud the leaders of this legislation for their commitment to ensuring that future lunar science and exploration is done in a safe and transparent manner.”
Chairwoman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Eddie Bernice Johnson said:
“I am pleased that the House passed the ‘One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage In Space Act’ today. Apollo remains a beacon of inspiration and a symbol of what we, as a nation, can accomplish. I have long advocated for the preservation of the Apollo artifacts, which hold deep cultural, historical, and scientific value for not only the United States, but for all of humanity. It is important that NASA and the United States lead the way in guiding responsible behavior in space, and this legislation to preserve our human heritage in space is, itself, one small step in practicing that leadership.”
House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Rep. Frank Lucas said:
“The Apollo landing sites mark one of humanity’s greatest achievements: the first time we were able to do more than look up at the sky, but actually leave our planet and visit another world. The One Small Step Act maintains these historic sites while encouraging the spirit of exploration that got us to the Moon. I’m proud to sponsor this bill to honor our historical achievements, and I look forward to the time when we can return humans to the Moon and continue the mission of discovery and learning that the Apollo astronauts began.”
Dr. A.W. “Tony” England, an astronaut during the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs and Professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, said:
“As a former astronaut in the Apollo program, it is fitting that one of humanities’ greatest collective achievements should be preserved for future generations to learn about and be inspired by. I am grateful for the efforts of Senators Peters and Cruz as well as Congressmen Johnson, Lucas, Horn, and Babin for their bill that will honor Apollo’s invaluable legacy of innovation, collaboration, and determination and preserve it for future generations.”
Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Stafford, USAF (Ret.), Commander, Apollo 10, added:
“As one of the original Apollo astronauts, I saw Apollo bring out the best of America and the best of humanity. The efforts of Senators Peters and Cruz and Congressmen Johnson, Lucas, Horn, and Babin will help ensure the achievements of the Apollo program serve as a beacon of inspiration—not just for America but for people all over the world for generations to come.”
The legislation directs NASA to require future moon activities to follow its preservation recommendations and honors the over 400,000 scientists, designers, and researchers who contributed to the Apollo programs, including NASA’s “Hidden Figures” like Katherine Johnson—an African American mathematician who worked at NASA for 35 years and calculated the trajectory of the Apollo 11 flight to the moon as well the trajectories for the spaceflights of astronauts John Glenn and Alan Shepard.
Sens. Cruz, Peters, and the other bill authors worked closely with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine – who negotiated a similar provision in the Artemis Accords and expressed his support for protecting the historical lunar sites in a 2019 Senate hearing – just before the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing.
Sen. Cruz has long fought to preserve critical history from the Apollo missions. In August 2018, Sens. Cruz, Ed Markey (D-Mass.), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) introduced the Hidden Figures Way Designation Act in honor of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson who were featured in the movie Hidden Figures, as well as all women who have dedicated their lives to honorably serving their country, advancing equality, and contributing to the space program of the United States. In June 2019, Sen. Cruz participated with Administrator Bridenstine, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, and author Margot Lee Shetterly in a ceremony designating the street in front of the NASA Headquarters as Hidden Figures Way.