Introduced at the 2018 International Astronautical Congress, the “Moon Race” is a global competition offering monetary incentives to address the thorniest technical issues of Moon exploration. That’s right. This is not a contest about getting to the Moon – it’s about staying on the Moon, sustainably. It’s forward-thinking, visionary, and truly exhilarating!
But sustainability isn’t just about recycling, conserving energy and careful management of the environment and natural resources with an eye to the future. It also requires preservation of our community. Of our common heritage and history. We need to preserve a sense of ourselves, our history and our humanity so that we can build not just a sustainable human habitat, but a sustainable human community in space.
This is something we can easily do on the Moon. The very first evidence of human exploration on the Moon — including the lunar landing sites of numerous countries and the bootprints of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin — mark the moment that humans became a spacefaring species. The sites remain untouched, preserved in the “magnificent desolation” of a world without rain or wind to erase our traces. They represent the ingenuity and perseverance of hundreds of thousands of astronomers, scientists, engineers and dreamers who toiled long hours to understand, and then reach, the heavens. And they deserve international recognition and protection.
We applaud the Moon Race Competition which will no doubt advance a human return to the Moon, and the development of a permanent human foothold in space. We urge the Moon Race to remind entrepreneurs to find the balance between development and preservation, and to include the management and preservation of our human heritage on the Moon as a fundamental criterion of the competition. In this way alone can we ensure that this race forward respects our first giant leap.