Today Marks the Launch of the First U.S. Moon Lander Since Apollo, Carrying Human Remains

First U.S. Moon Lander Since Apollo

In over 50 years, an American spacecraft is set to embark on a journey to the moon. The ‘Peregrine’ lander, developed by the Pittsburgh-based company Astrobotic, is scheduled for launch on Monday at 2:18 a.m. ET, with an 85% chance of favorable weather conditions, according to NASA. The launch is part of NASA’s CLPS initiative, aiming to send five payloads to the Moon for the Astrobotic Peregrine Mission One.

The NASA payloads aboard Peregrine One will focus on locating water molecules, measuring radiation and gases, and evaluating the lunar exosphere. These experiments will enhance our understanding of solar radiation interaction with the lunar surface. If successful, Peregrine will touch down on Sinus Viscositatis, or Bay of Stickiness, on February 23.

Peregrine carries 20 experiments and international payloads, including NASA instruments, a rover from Carnegie Mellon University, a physical Bitcoin, and cremated remains and DNA, including those of Gene Roddenberry and Arthur C. Clarke. The mission could make Astrobotic the first private company to achieve a ‘soft’ landing on the moon.

Despite excitement, controversy surrounds the Peregrine mission due to commercial payloads containing human remains. The Navajo Nation has urged NASA to delay the launch, expressing deep concern over the use of the moon as a resting place for human remains. NASA has committed to consulting with tribes on such decisions in the future.

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