Private space company to return to Apollo 17 landing site – carefully!
On the 45th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 17, the last mission to take humans to the surface of the Moon, commercial space company PTScientists formally pledges that it will respect this site of incredible historical interest. Announcing a partnership with For All Moonkind, Inc., PTScientists is making a public pledge of support for their initiative to safeguard sites of historical and cultural significance on the Moon and elsewhere in outer space.
In a human first, PTScientists’s Mission to the Moon will revisit the Apollo 17 landing site. This is the first time any organisation – private or public – has planned to return to any of the historic landing sites on the Moon. The team hopes to capture the first high-definition images of Apollo 17’s lunar roving vehicle, which was left on the Moon by astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Gene Cernan in 1972. Since Cernan and Schmitt left the surface of the Moon on 14th December 1972, no-one has seen the lunar roving vehicle (LRV) clearly. Grainy images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show signs of what is believed to be the LRV on the Moon’s surface, but no-one can tell how well the Moon buggy has survived decades of radiation exposure, lunar dust, and extremes of temperature.
“The inspirational power of the Apollo missions even touches people who, like me, weren’t alive to see them first-hand” explains Robert Boehme, CEO and Founder of PTScientists. “Apollo 17 marked the end of one chapter of exploration, but as we enter a new era of private exploration I want to create a new ‘Apollo moment’ to inspire a new generation of explorers, engineers and scientists.” “We want to visit the Apollo 17 landing site not just to celebrate human achievement, but also to continue scientific learning” he added. Recognising the historic and cultural significance of the Apollo 17 landing site, PTScientists has been working with engineers from NASA specifically to assure Mission to the Moon does not damage any important human heritage.
This experience highlighted the need for a wider conversation on protection and preservation of site, and how this should be covered in a formal legal framework to ensure the protection of all human heritage sites in outer space for future generations. For All Moonkind is an international citizen-based not-for-profit group working to develop and implement binding international law designed to manage the preservation of humankind’s heritage in outer space starting with the Apollo landing sites. “Each of the Apollo lunar landing and similar sites in outer space, including, for example, Russia’s Luna sites, are a fundamental part of our human heritage” said For All Moonkind Co-Founder Michelle Hanlon. “They mark an achievement unparalleled in human history, and one that is common to all humankind. They also hold valuable scientific and archaeological information and serve as poignant memorials to all those who work — and have worked in the past — to evolve humans into a spacefaring species. In short, they are unique and irreplaceable cultural and scientific resources. And they must be protected from intentional or accidental disturbance or desecration.”
PTScientists is one of the first private space companies to support the For All Moonkind initiative. The company has endorsed the mission of the organisation and is helping to spearhead an initiative to encourage all organisations in the space sector to sign a binding pledge to respect the lunar landing sites and all our human heritage in outer space. “We are very grateful for the support of PTScientists,” continued Hanlon. “Robert and his team are the embodiment of our new spacefaring age. They aren’t just committed to exploring space, they understand that our human return to the Moon is based on a deep, rich and shared history – one that must be preserved to guide into this new frontier.” “The original space race was dominated by two countries, but today the competition between private companies is just as intense,” said Boehme. “I hope we all share one overriding goal: to make space accessible to all humanity.” “As we take the next giant leap, we must be careful not to trample on the footsteps of those that came before us” he added. “As space fans ourselves, PTScientists is happy to support For All Moonkind and its mission to preserve our human heritage.”
PTScientists will be exhibiting at Space Tech Expo Europe 2019 in stand B20.