The Final Mission:
Preserving NASA's Apollo Sites

Lisa Westwood, Beth Laura O'Leary, and Milford Wayne Donaldson

Foreword by Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Stafford
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“A powerful case in favor of the need for the identification and preservation of the places that played a role in one of the greatest achievements in history.”—Space Times  

 
“Details how various sites in New Mexico, Texas, California, and Florida contributed to the successful Apollo missions.”—USA Today  
 
 
“Explain[s] the necessity of preserving these sites for future generations, and the ways in which the launch facilities, test sites, and even lunar sites can be properly tended.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“By highlighting the Apollo program and the breadth of sites involved in developing America’s space capabilities up through the moon landings, the authors have demonstrated that the material culture of federal programs in particular should be evaluated within a far broader scope than is normally practiced.”—H-Net Reviews
 
“Explore[s] the archaeological perspective of preserving sites related to the Project Apollo and moon missions. . . . thoroughly covers the details of the lunar missions and describes how many key landmarks, such as launch pads and other facilities, may no longer exist because of damage and neglect.”—Choice
 
“A solid exploration of the issues at play in the preservation of historic sites associated with the Moon landings, by far the best such work available.”—Public Historian  
 
"An excellent overview of artifacts and sites in both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial environments."--P. J. Capelotti, author of The Human Archaeology of Space

"Artfully blends archaeology and historic preservation into a history of the Cold War space race. A compelling argument for preserving America's twentieth-century space heritage."--Todd A. Hanson, author of The Archaeology of the Cold War


The world will always remember Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin for their first steps on the moon, yet few today hold in respect the sites that made these and other astronauts' journeys possible. Across the American landscape and on the lunar surface, many facilities and landing sites linked to the Apollo program remain unprotected. Some have already crumbled to ruins--silent and abandoned. The Final Mission explores these key locations, reframes the footprints and items left on the moon as cultural resources, and calls for the urgent preservation of this space heritage.


Beginning with the initiation of the space race, the authors trace the history of research, training, and manufacturing centers that contributed to lunar exploration. From the early rocket test stands of Robert H. Goddard, to astronaut instruction at Meteor Crater, to human and primate experiments at Holloman Air Force Base, innumerable places proved critical to developing the equipment for exploring space, surviving the journey, and returning to Earth safely. Despite their significance to the history of human spaceflight, many landmarks face the threat of damage or destruction. Most alarming is that the rapid advancement of technology renders stations obsolete long before they are deemed worthy of preservation. Moreover, the lack of precedence for protecting off-planet artifacts poses a unique challenge for space archaeology. While NASA's 2011 recommendations for spacefarers suggest avoiding close proximity to this cultural landscape, the authors advocate stronger routes of preservation and present models for safeguarding space history--both on Earth's surface and beyond.


Lisa Westwood is director of cultural resources at ECORP Consulting, Inc., and a professional archaeologist. Beth Laura O’Leary, professor emerita of anthropology at New Mexico State University, is coeditor of Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology, and Heritage. Milford Wayne Donaldson is president of the firm Architect Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA. He is chairman of the national Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the former state historic preservation officer for the state of California.
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Explore[s] the archaeological perspective of preserving sites related to the Project Apollo and moon missions. . . . [And] thoroughly covers the details of the lunar missions and describes how many key landmarks, such as launch pads and other facilities, may no longer exist because of damage and neglect. -- Choice

By highlighting the Apollo program and the breadth of sites involved in developing America’s space capabilities up through the moon landings, the authors have demonstrated that the material culture of federal programs in particular should be evaluated within a far broader scope than is normally practiced. -- H-Net Reviews

Explain[s] the necessity of preserving these sites for future generations, and the ways in which the launch facilities, test sites, and even lunar sites can be properly tended. -- Publishers Weekly

By highlighting the Apollo program and the breadth of sites involved in developing America’s space capabilities up through the moon landings, the authors have demonstrated that the material culture of federal programs in particular should be evaluated within a far broader scope than is normally practiced. In so doing, the opportunities for preserving the heritage of our nation during some of the most dynamic decades in its history would dramatically increase. . . . This book should prove useful for those who are driven to advocate for that preservation. -- H-Net

Offers an interesting perspective on the challenges of preserving artifacts from an effort that is still fairly young, and one that is—or, at least in its early years, was—fast moving. -- Space Review

Presents a powerful case in favor of the need for the identification and preservation of the places that played a role in one of the greatest achievements in history. -- Space Times

A solid exploration of the issues at play in the preservation of historic sites associated with the Moon landings, by far the best such work available. -- Public Historian

Speaks of a wider need for conversation about how the saving of material culture for the future must navigate the needs of a minimalist future that extends beyond us. It is a serious discussion. -- Quest

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