A lonely end.

To Boldly Go

When Astrobotic Technology's Peregrine lander launched into space earlier this week, the launch also contained the human remains of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek actor James Doohan, and a bunch of other dead people slated for a final resting spot among the stars.

The Peregrine lander suffered catastrophic tech issues, and the human remains originally destined for the lunar surface are now careening through the vacuum of space. But the launch contained two sets of remains, and those belonging to Roddenberry and Doohan were always intended to go "beyond the Earth-Moon system, beyond the James Webb telescope, and into interplanetary deep space" — and they're now headed that way.

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."

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."

Updated to correct that Roddenberry and Doohan's remains were intended to continue to travel in space, not touch down on the lunar surface with the other remains.

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

Share This Article