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Should the Apollo moon landing site be a National Historic Landmark?

The passing of Neil Armstrong, the first human to set foot on the moon, could energize the movement to preserve Tranquility Base and the NASA artifacts that remain there. 


On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. Armstrong is pictured here, shortly after collecting a sample of lunar dust and rocks. At his feet is the handle for the sample collection tool.

NASA/Andy Chaikin/

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The passing of famed astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon and commander of Apollo 11, may strengthen the movement to designate the Tranquility Base lunar landing site as a National Historic Landmark.

The field of space heritage preservation is gaining momentum, and a recently authored bill aims protect the Apollo 11’s Eagle lunar lander touchdown site and all the artifacts that astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left behind on the lunar surface.

A leading champion of the moon landing site preservation campaign is Beth O’Leary, an associate professor of anthropology in New Mexico State University’s College of Arts and Sciences. “I had one sad thought that with his passing, people may consider the site on the moon more ‘historic,’" she told

O’Leary and Chico State University archaeology professor Lisa Westwood worked with California Congressman Dan Lungren and his staff to write the bill. [Photos: Neil Armstrong Remembered]

Cultural material

There’s a total of 190 tons of cultural material on the moon, O'Leary said, and there are about 106 artifacts that are specific to the Apollo 11 site. The effort under way is to preserve the significant technological objects that got Armstrong and Aldrin to the moon for that historic flight.

California and New Mexico have already listed Tranquility Base on their state historic registers. The next step would be the National Historic Landmark designation.

Once a property is designated a National Historic Landmark, it can be nominated for inclusion on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage List. [New Photos of Apollo Moon Landing Sittes]


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