A lonely end.

To Boldly Go

When Astrobotic Technology’s Peregrine lander launched into space earlier this week, it was carrying not just scientific instruments for a much anticipated Moon landing, but it also had on board the human remains of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, and a whole bunch of other dead people slated for a final resting spot on the lunar surface.

But with the Peregrine lander suffering from catastrophic tech issues, the human remains, along with myriad other payloads on board, are now careening through the black, cold vacuum of space.

Astrobotic, which was contracted by NASA to build the Peregrine, announced that it was no longer going to attempt a Moon landing after the lander suffered a propellant leak and a valve issue.

The whole thing is a bummer: if successful, the Peregrine would have been the first American lunar lander since the 1970s.

Space Case

The final update from Astrobotic is an exterior shot posted on X, showing capsules containing messages from children and adults and one of Peregrine’s landing legs.

This spacecraft, besides being the first attempted lunar American lander in decades, had a lot riding on it besides science experiments and human remains. It was also the first project out of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, in which the space agency contracts with commercial space companies.

Needless to say, the failure of this mission puts a damper on that initiative.

“It’s certainly going to have some some impact on our relationships and our ability to to secure additional missions in the future,” Astrobotic CEO John Thornton told CNN. “It certainly wouldn’t be the end of the business, but it would certainly be challenging.”

Bright Spot

At least one group may see the development as a bright spot. Officials from the Navajo Nation had protested against the launcher bringing human remains to the Moon, calling the move blasphemous to many indigenous cultures.

“We view it as a part of our spiritual heritage, an object of reverence and respect,” said Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren in a statement. “The act of depositing human remains and other materials, which could be perceived as discards in any other location, on the Moon is tantamount to desecration of this sacred space.”

More on the Peregrine lander: Photo Shows Damaged Moon Lander Languishing in Orbit


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