“And that package out of your sleeve? Get this?“is certainly not the most famous phrase spoken by a human on the moon. And the objects tucked away in a small package that astronaut Buzz Aldrin had stored in the pocket just below his shoulder. extravehicular mobility unit were certainly not mission essential. They were sentimental objects, intended to be left on the Moon for purely symbolic and commemorative purposes.
More than a hundred sites
You may be surprised to learn that part catalog of man-made objects on the moon fills over 20 single-spaced pages. There are over a hundred sites on the Moon with evidence of human activity. The sites contain documents from the European Space Agency, Japan, India, Russia, China and the United States. Not only do these sites contain current experiments, but they contain invaluable data. For example, engineers hope to examine these materials to determine how they behaved after continued exposure to high radiation levels on the moon. In addition to science equipment, robotic landers, and other items left behind to lighten the load for the ride home, there are a number of commemorative and tribute items.
But perhaps most importantly, these varied objects, and their position on the lunar surface, alone can reveal the true story of human history on the Moon. A column that celebrates the perseverance and passion of hundreds and thousands of scientists, engineers and airmen throughout the history of mankind who have supported the effort of “slip the snarling bonds of the earth”And reach for the stars.
I am not a historian. I’m a space lawyer and it’s my mission to craft the laws we need to protect artefacts and historic sites in space. I co-founded For all Moonkind, the only organization in the world dedicated to preserving human heritage in space, to ensure that archaeologists, historians, scientists and tourists have the opportunity to learn valuable lessons from our past.
Messages of peace
Buzz Aldrin and his Moonwalker colleague Neil Armstrong chose to go to the moon with a Apollo 1 room. It was chosen to honor the ultimate sacrifice of astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed Blanc and Roger chaffee, who perished in a fire during the first test of the Apollo command and service module. The astronauts also chose to remember their fallen Soviet competitors and took with them two Soviet medals, honoring the cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov, died in the Soyuz 1 spaceship in 1967 and Yuri Gagarin, the first man to orbit the Earth, who was killed on a plane in 1968. Aldrin and Armstrong understood that even if the Americans made the Soviets run to the moon, the success would be shared by all.
This is why they also carried a small golden olive branch – a global symbol of peace – and a silicon disc the size of half a US dollar. Written on this disc in microscopic text are messages the President of the United States and the leaders of 73 other nations approached by Thomas paine, then at the head of NASA. The messages, intended to be left on the Moon for posterity, are poignant, proud and congratulatory. Some speak of their own national heritage, others praise the courage of the three humans who buckled up in a rocket and catapulted into the unknown. From Afghanistan to Zambia, the messages have a common theme: peace.
Neil Armstrong’s Favorites
According to his biographer, James hansen, Neil Armstrong has identified three favorite posts. The president of Costa Rica hoped that the moon landing would produce “new benefits for improving the welfare of the human race.” The king of the Belgians has remained “deeply aware of our responsibility with regard to the tasks which may open up to us in the universe, but also those which remain to be accomplished on this Earth, in order to bring more justice and more happiness to humanity ”. Finally, the president of the Ivory Coast demanded that the first human messengers to the Moon “turn to our planet Earth and cry out how insignificant the problems that torture men are, seen from above.”
I personally find the message from the president of Mexico rather premonitory as he noted “in 1492, the discovery of the American continent transformed the geography and the course of human events. Today, the conquest of ultraterrestrial space – with its associated unknowns – recreates our perspectives and improves our paradigms. He went on to recall that human migration to space involves “a new and far-reaching responsibility”.
Space historian Tahir rahman, who published a award winning book which tells the full story of the Messages of Peace, says that Aldrin and Armstrong almost forgot to leave the disc and other mementos on the lunar surface. Indeed, according to NASA Records and Transcripts, it was only when the Moonwalkers got back into their spaceship for the return trip to Earth that they realized their forgetfulness. At the last minute, the disc was thrown off the ladder and settled into the regolith without pomp or circumstance. Once in the capsule, Armstrong verified that “the disc with the messages was placed on the surface as intended”.
The mystery isn’t that these busy astronauts almost forgot to leave the disc behind. After all, they were pretty busy being the first humans to set foot on the moon. I think it’s strange that the two most popular Apollo 11 movies released last year, “First man” and “Apollo 11”, Make no mention of the record and its moving and hopeful messages.
On July 20, 1969, the world came together to celebrate the most remarkable technological achievement in human experience. And in this celebration, our leaders focused on our common hope for peace. This is the lesson of mankind’s effort to reach the Moon. I believe this is the story we need to embrace. It is our responsibility to explore outer space in peace, together as a species.
Let us not forget or abandon the lessons of our past. The first step is to protect the sites that tell our story on the Moon. And I hope that along the way, we can regain the goodwill Neil and Buzz left behind.
This article was published in collaboration with The conversation, an independent, non-profit editor of commentary and analysis, written by academics on hot topics related to their research.