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Retired NASA astronaut and CEO of Tierra Luna Engineering Jose Hernandez discusses the importance of returning to the moon after more than 50 years.
The country’s largest native tribe is concerned about plans to put human remains on the surface of the moon.
The Navajo Nation voiced outrage at NASA at a press conference on Friday, lamenting plans for the Jan. 8 launch of the Vulcan Centaur to deposit approximately 250 capsules of human ashes on the lunar surface.
“The placement of human remains on the moon is a profound desecration of this celestial body revered by our people,” the Navajo President Buu Nygren said on Thursday in a statement addressing the launch.
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Members of the media take pictures of the ULA’s new rocket Vulcan Centaur carrying Peregrine lunar lander rolls to Space Launch Complex 41 (R) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on January 5, 2024. The new ULA is to make its maiden flight on January 8, 2024, with a payload that includes a private lunar lander. The mission, called Cert-1, will also carry on board the cremated remains of several people associated with the original “Star Trek” series, including creator Gene Rodenberry and cast member Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed the character Uhura. Rodenberry’s ashes have been launched into orbit before. (CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
He continued, “This act disregards past agreements and promises of respect and consultation between NASA and the Navajo Nation, notably following the Lunar Prospector mission in 1998.”
The Navajo Nation initially filed a letter to NASA and the Department of Transportation on Dec. 21, voicing their discontent with the deposit of remains to be carried out by memorial service companies Celestis and Elysium Space.
Navajo leaders claim that the space launch turns its back on a promise by NASA to consult with native leaders when considering memorial flights that would possibly scatter human ashes on sacred lands.
The launch is being conducted by a private company with assistance and oversight from NASA.
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The nation asserts that the moon is just as relevant to their cultural and spiritual concerns as the earth.
Among the individuals whose ashes are set to be brought to the moon are Star Trek actors Nichelle Nichols, DeForest Kelley and James Doohan — as well as series creator Gene Roddenberry and his wife, Majel Barrett.
“I have continuously followed up urging for the immediate postponement of the launch and the commencement of consultations to address the matter,” Nygren said of the launch on Friday.
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He added, “I stand by the position that both NASA and the USDOT should have conducted consultations with Indigenous tribes before contracting with or issuing payload certificates for missions that involve the transport of human remains to the moon.”
Timothy Nerozzi is a writer for Fox News Digital. You can follow him on Twitter @timothynerozzi and can email him at [email protected]