The Navajo flag.

Opinion: Stop sending human remains to the Moon

By Alvin Harvey via Nature

On 8 January, US space company Astrobotic launched the first commercial Moon lander, called Peregrine. Among the spacecraft’s 20 payloads were five instruments built by NASA. Other cargo included the cremated remains of at least 70 people and one dog, sent by two US companies, Celestis and Elysium Space, which give people the opportunity to be interred on the Moon.

The Moon is a shared cultural space for humanity. Many people might instinctively feel uneasy about its incipient commercialization, which has happened with little consultation and remains mostly unregulated. Many Indigenous Peoples, including Diné (the people) of the Navajo Nation such as myself, feel a whole other level of unease. For us, the Moon is an ancient relative — Grandmother Moon is a term of reverence shared by many Indigenous Peoples — and we should be careful, diligent and respectful when visiting her.