Moon landingThere is a thought-provoking article by Andy Carling in this week’s New Europe about mankind’s lunar heritage. Altogether, twelve men walked on the moon between 1969 and 1972. They left their footprints and a considerable number of objects, including Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s moon boots, some flags and the lunar rover. These vestiges of an extraordinary achievement could all be considered as part of mankind’s common heritage. Certainly UNESCO’s Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative considers that to be the case, and so does NASA. The issue arises, and with some urgency, because Google has offered $ 30 million for the ‘first privately funded teams to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, have that robot travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send video, images and data back to the Earth.’ And this by 31 December 2015. There are, Carling reports, twenty-three teams actively competing. And a bonus prize is being offered for ‘precision landing near an Apollo site or other lunar sites of interest (such as landing/crash sites of man-made space hardware)’. NASA talked with Google and ‘agreement was reached on avoiding landing sites, in particular that of Apollo 11 and 17, the first and last visits by humanity.’ NASA also produced a 96-page technical guide for prospective moonwalkers. As Carling cogently argues, mankind’s burgeoning space law must also rapidly consider how its space heritage can be defined and protected.