Cremated Humans And Dog Hair Are Part Of First US Moon Landing Mission Since 1972

hero peregrine mission one launch
The first lunar landing mission to launch from the United States since 1972 has successfully lifted off carrying an assortment of payloads, including cremated human remains and dog hair. Astrobotic’s Peregrine Mission One contains 265 capsules with human remains, including the creator and several members of the original Star Trek television series, and DNA, including that of former US presidents. While the Vulcan rocket did successfully launch, Astrobotic has confirmed that an anomaly occurred which prevented the team from achieving a stable-sun pointing orientation. The team is currently working on the issue in real time and will provide updates as data is obtained and analyzed.

The Peregrine lander was built as part of a contract with NASA, which paid Astrobotic $108 million to develop Peregrine and carry scientific payloads to the moon. Five of the payloads aboard the mission belong to NASA, along with 15 others coming from various other customers. Perhaps the most prominent payload is that of actual human remains and a dog’s hair from the space burial company Celestis. Celestis offers customers the opportunity to carry the ashes of loved ones to the moon, with space burial pricing starting at more than $10,000. It is, however, the most controversial as well.

The controversy of landing human remains on the lunar surface comes from an objection from the Navajo Nation. The president of the Navajo Nation wrote to NASA and the Department of Transportation in late December asking that the launch be delayed. Many Indigenous People hold the moon as being sacred, and view human remains being placed on the lunar surface as an act of desecration.

During a recent press conference, Joel Kearns, NASA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration, remarked, “We recognize that some non-NASA commercial payloads could be cause for concern to some communities, and those communities may not understand that these missions are commercial.” Kearns added, “NASA really doesn’t have involvement or oversight to the other commercial payloads.”

Ahead of the report that an anomaly had occurred, Astrobotic released a press release, remarking, “Today Peregrine Mission One achieved a number of big milestones. Peregrine powered on, acquired a signal with Earth, and is now moving through space on its way to the Moon.” It is now a waiting game to see if the company can overcome the anomaly and stick the lunar landing.

**Update 1/8/2024 11:08am EST: Astrobotic has released an update on the anomaly. The update was posted on the company's Twitter/X account and stated, "We continue to gather data and report our best assessment of what we see. The team believes that the likely cause of the unstable sun-pointing is a propulsion anomaly that, if proven true, threatens the ability of the spacecraft to soft land on the Moon. As the team fights to troubleshoot the issue, the spacecraft battery is reaching operationally low levels. Just before entering a known period of communication outage, the team developed and executed an improvised maneuver to reorient the solar panels toward the Sun. Shortly after this maneuver, the spacecraft entered an expected period of communication loss. We will provide more updates as Peregrine comes in view of the ground station again."

**Update 1/8/2024 12:50pm: Astrobotic has issued another update. The statement remarked, "We have successfully re-established communications with Peregrine after the known communications blackout. The team's improvised maneuver was successful in reorienting Peregrine's solar array towards the Sun. We are now charging the battery. The Mission Anomaly Board continues to evaluate the data we're receiving and is assessing the status of what we believe to be the root of the anomaly: a failure within the propulsion system."

Update: 1/8/2024 1:22pm EST: Astrobotic has released a fourth statement concerning the anomaly that affected its Peregrine mission. The statement read, "Unfortunately, it appears the failure within the propulsion system is causing a critical loss of propellant. The team is working to try and stabilize this loss, but given the situation, we have prioritized maximizing the science and data we can capture. We are currently assessing what alternative mission profiles may be feasible at this time."