The United Launch Alliance has taken the Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle to the launch pad, whose launch is scheduled for January 8. The launch window is limited and the alliance plans to have 5-6 more launches this year alone, so the launch is certain to happen. This means that US authorities have ignored Navajo Indian demands that the moon be recognized as a sacred place for Native American peoples.
The rocket’s payload is the Peregrine lunar module from space contractor Astrobotic. It fulfills a contract with Celestis and Elysium Space, which offer services for the burial of human ashes on the Earth’s natural satellite. Due to extensive publicity about the service, the Navajo Indians found out about it and filed a collective protest.
The essence of the protest is that in Navajo culture the Moon is a place with a special, sacred status. Visiting it is not forbidden, but intentionally leaving there what can be interpreted as “waste and garbage” is not allowed – it is considered desecration. Human remains clearly fall under this definition, so the head of the Navajo tribal alliance, Buu Nigren, filed a formal protest with NASA and the U.S. Department of Transportation.