The Navajo Nation is against launching human remains to the Moon

The Navajo is the largest Native American nation in the United States. Recently, they opposed the launch of the Vulcan Centaur rocket with the remains of deceased people on board. In their opinion, sending them to the Moon would mean desecrating it.

The Navajo Nation considers the moon sacred. Source:

The Navajo Nation is against sending human ashes to the Moon

Another scandal is unfolding in the United States related to the conflict between indigenous nations and space explorers. This time, we are talking about representatives of the largest Navajo indigenous community. They strongly criticized the Peregrine mission, which is scheduled to launch into space on January 8.

The mission of the Peregrine probe, which is being prepared by Astrobotic, does not cause complaints from Navajo representatives. It should simply investigate radiation on the Moon as part of a training program for manned missions. But United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket will also carry cargo from private companies Elysium Space and Celestis.

And they provoked a sharp reaction from Native Americans. The fact is that, as part of these missions, the remains of deceased people and even dogs, as well as their DNA, are to be delivered to the Moon. Among other things, there will be the ashes of the series Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke.

Discussion of the problem

The Navajo Nation considers the moon sacred, and sending human remains there is considered desecration. Therefore, on December 21, they sent a letter to NASA expressing their outrage and concern about what was happening. 

In particular, the Navajo Nation representatives say that the situation is very similar to the one that developed in 1998, when the Lunar Prospector probe crashed into the Moon after completing a scientific mission. At that time, the remains of astronomer Eugene Shoemaker were on board.

Then the Navajo Nation also made a fuss because they considered it a desecration of the sacred moon. And NASA then heard them and promised to coordinate all such actions in the future. However, nothing like this happened this time.

NASA’s response

NASA representatives have already responded to the Navajo appeal. On January 4, they held a press conference at which they apologized to the representatives of the nation and promised to consult with them in the future. However, they stressed that they could not influence the current launch in any way. Private companies are not required to coordinate their payloads with them or report on them in advance.

The companies also responded to the appeal. Their representatives stated that they respected all religious movements, but did not believe that they had the right to dictate the rules of space exploration to others. In addition, the landing of capsules with biological materials is planned to be soft, so no contamination will occur.

Among other things, it should be mentioned that human biological materials are already present on the Moon. These are bags of feces and urine left on its surface by the astronauts of the Apollo spacecraft. There are about 150–200 kg of them, but Navajo representatives are not concerned about them.

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