Almost every Sci-Fi fan on Earth would trade their “lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” to go to the moon. MSN reported “The United States will soon launch its first spacecraft to attempt a soft lunar landing since the Apollo era, in a historic collaboration with the private sector — but not everyone is celebrating.” Their article references the intent to allow human remains to make the journey as cargo, to be deposited permanently on the moon, including payloads from two companies — Elysium Space and Celestis — that will contain cremated remains and DNA to stay on the Moon, inside the lander, forever. While Elysium hasn’t offered details, Celestis has 69 individual “participants” including late Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke, and a dog named Indica-Noodle Fabiano. Celestis Customers paid prices starting at $12,995, according to the company’s website.
While I, personally, would be delighted to have my mortal remains rest on the Moon, when the time comes, I know that is highly unlikely. (In addition to being a staff writer for SciFi.Radio, I am a very minor speculative fiction author who has published much more fantasy than science fiction.) John Glenn or Robert Heinlein might merit such a resting place. I do not … yet. The whole notion of using the moon as a columbarium for the ashes of distinguished scientists or science fiction authors or actors reminds me of Robert A. Heinlein’s Between Planets, where Chinese immigrants to Mars saved their bone money, so if they did not return to Earth before they died, their bones could be sent back. However, the Navajo Nation, the largest indigenous group in the USA, has protested the possibility of using the Moon as a columbarium. According to their traditional beliefs, this would be an act of desecration.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left a plaque on the Moon that said, “we came in peace for all mankind.” The Navajo were not meant to be intentionally excluded in that, though an exception for members of the Navajo nation might make sense for them. It’s complicated. The Moon, Sun and stars are part of the Navajo belief system. The prospect of actually going there probably never occurred to them, so just the idea of it threatens their belief system, and the Navajo may not be alone in this dilemna.
Given the cost of lunar missions, it would seem financially prudent to honor Navajo beliefs and not deposit human cremains on the Moon. But the larger question remains: the moral issue. Should the Navajo nation be allowed to speak for all humanity? Or should their objections be noted only for members of the tribe? As of 2021, there were 399,494 enrolled members of the Navajo Nation.
On the other hand, in practical terms, sending one’s remains to the Moon appears to be something only the very wealthy could afford. Should we be giving that notion patronage? Another question, of course, is why the Navajo nation waited until plans were so far along to voice an objection.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a sci-fi fan or a space nerd, how would we go about resolving this thorny issue? What do you think? Please share your opinions with us in the comments section below, or share this article on Twitter (now X) or Facebook, and start a conversation.
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.