As the earth’s natural resources grow smaller by the day, private companies have turned their sights to the night sky. The moon represents new opportunities for these interested parties, as the planet’s natural satellite is replete with minerals that are ripe for the picking. The non-profit organization For All Moonkind aims to prevent this from happening by appealing to the United Nations (UN). This move was galvanized by the auctioning of a bag containing lunar dust — lunar dust from none other than the Apollo 11 mission.
How the government lost a bag of valuable moon dust
According to ChicagoTribune.com, this bag fell into the hands of Chicago lawyer Nancy Lee Carlson when she bought it off a government website for $995. The bag, an Apollo 11 Lunar Sample Return Decontamination Bag, had been put up for sale by accident after government officials confiscated it from the home of Kansas native Max Ary.
Following her purchase of the bag, Carlson sent it to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to prove its authenticity. The agency verified that the bag did indeed contain moon dust, and sought to keep the bag. Carlson then filed a federal lawsuit, which NASA lost, and a United States District Court judge ordered the agency to return it to Carlson.
Were that not enough, Carlson decided to auction off the bag through British art dealer Sotheby’s on July 20, 2017, the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The bag was acquired by an unidentified buyer for $1.8 million.
“A sobering wake-up call”
Speaking to DailyMail.co.uk, space lawyer and For All Moonkind co-founder Michelle Hanlon said: “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.”
To prevent events like this from happening in the future, For All Moonkind plans to call upon the UN to protect the six Apollo Lunar Landing sites and all related artifacts.
“We formed For All Moonkind with a mission to ensure [that] the Apollo landing sites [are] recognized by the [UN] for their outstanding value to humanity and protected for posterity,” explained Hanlon.
The organization is slated to present its full plan on August 7 to 9 at the Starship Congress in Monterey, California.
Their efforts could not have arrived at a better time, as other nations and private groups have already expressed their interest in joining the moon race. China has stated that it was in the process of making “preliminary preparations”. Florida-based Moon Express intends on establishing a lunar outpost by 2020 to mine metals and moon rocks to sell back on earth. (Related: China to launch missiles from the moon, turning it into a death star)
“Our effort is all about progress,” said Hanlon. “However, if we allow our past to be sold, especially for personal gain, we set a dangerous precedent for potential Moon scavengers and we lay a very weak foundation for our collective future.”
Hopefully the UN will intervene and keep the moon from becoming just another resource to greedy corporations.
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