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Where no flag has gone before: Political and technical aspects of placing a flag on the MoonThe flag on the Moon represents an important event in vexillological history. The political and technical aspects of placing a flag on the Moon, focusing on the first Moon landing, is examined. During their historic extravehicular activity, the Apollo 11 crew planted the flag of the United States on the lunar surface. This flag-raising was strictly a symbolic activity, as the United Nations Treaty on Outer Space precluded any territorial claim. Nevertheless, there were domestic and international debates over the appropriateness of the event. Congress amended the agency's appropriations bill to prevent the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from placing flags of other nations, or those of international associations, on the Moon during missions funded solely by the United States. Like any activity in space exploration, the Apollo flag-raising also provided NASA engineers with an interesting technical challenge. They designed a flagpole with a horizontal bar allowing the flag to 'fly' without the benefit of wind to overcome the effects of the Moon's lack of an atmosphere. Other factors considered in the design were weight, heat resistance, and ease of assembly by astronauts whose space suits restricted their range of movement and ability to grasp items. As NASA plans a return to the Moon and an expedition to Mars, we will likely see flags continue to go 'where no flag has gone before'.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Conference Paper
Platoff, Anne M.
(Hernandez Engineering, Inc. Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
August 1, 1993
Subject Category
Law, Political Science And Space Policy
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.26:188251
Meeting Information
Meeting: Meeting of the North American Vexillological Association
Location: San Antonio, TX
Country: United States
Start Date: October 11, 1992
Accession Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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