Monday, October 03, 2011

Convergence Wyoming: Historic preservation not just for Earth anymore.

Milford Wayne Donaldson, California’s state historic preservation officer, will be a featured speaker at the Convergence Wyoming 2011 in Cody Oct. 6-8. He will speak about some of the finer points of historic preservation. And its most otherworldly ones. In 2010, Donaldson successfully sought historic preservation status for the Apollo 11 moon landing sites.
The reasoning behind the first-of-its-kind designation was simple: Scores of California companies worked on the Apollo mission, and much of their handiwork remains of major historical value to the state, regardless of where it is now or what it was for used for then.
“It has a significance that goes way further than whether it came from a quarter million miles away or not,” Mr. Donaldson said. “They are all parts of the event.” 
While Apollo 11 was indeed a landmark mission — during which Neil A. Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon and he and Buzz Aldrin apparently ditched their boots — it wasn’t exactly tidy. Worried about the weight of their landing capsule, the harried lunar explorers left behind tons of trash, including empty food bags, electrical equipment and, yes, several receptacles meant for bodily waste. 
There is also a collection of artifacts of historical note and emotion: Mr. Armstrong’s footprint, for example, and an American flag. Apollo 11 also left behind a mission patch from Apollo 1, in which three astronauts died in a fire, and a message from world leaders. 
And while some of the garbage might seem like, well, garbage, California is just one of several states seeking protection for the items in the face of possible lunar missions by other nations as well as a budding space tourism industry. 
Mr. Donaldson said he hoped his commission’s vote might help goad the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization into placing the landing site on the World Heritage List, an international compilation of famed landmarks. 
“I think there’s a threat from private companies,” Mr. Donaldson said. “And with today’s technology, they could probably pinpoint this.” 
That said, Mr. Donaldson admitted that there were no “space cops” available to safeguard the state’s newest historical resource. But, like the Apollo astronauts themselves, he seemed optimistic that Friday’s vote might lead to bigger and better things. 
“Hopefully,” he said, “this will take off.”
Register for Convergence Wyoming at source: New York Times

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