Private Mission to the Moon Sparks Controversy over Lunar Burial
The White House has called for a meeting to discuss a private mission to the moon, which is set to launch in just a few days. The mission, known as Peregrine Mission One, will be a historic event, as it will mark the first time that an American-made spacecraft has landed on the lunar surface since 1972.
However, this mission has come under fire from Native American groups, who have requested a delay in the launch. The reason for their concern is that the spacecraft will be carrying cremated human remains for lunar burial. Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren has expressed his deep disapproval, stating that allowing the remains to touch down on the moon would be deeply disturbing and unacceptable to indigenous cultures.
The private companies behind the mission, Celestis and Elysium Space, have defended their actions, claiming that this is a celebration and not a desecration of the moon. However, this is not the first time that Navajo Nation has raised concerns about lunar burials. They refer back to a 1999 mission that carried the remains of a former astronaut.
NASA is the primary customer for this mission, but it is one of many paying customers utilizing Astrobotic Technology’s lunar lander. The debate surrounding this mission has raised important questions about who controls the moon and the oversight and regulation of non-NASA commercial payloads.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation only has oversight in matters of public health and safety, safety of property, and national security. The Navajo Nation argues that the lack of oversight is deeply concerning and calls for respect in space exploration to protect the moon.
In response to the controversy, the White House has convened a meeting that will include representatives from NASA, the FAA, the US Department of Transportation, and the Department of Commerce. However, Navajo Nation officials have expressed little hope of stopping the launch.
As the launch date approaches, the nation waits to see if these concerns will be taken into account or if the private mission to the moon will proceed as planned. The outcome of this meeting will not only determine the fate of this specific mission but also set a precedent for future commercial payloads and the regulation of moon activities.
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