The United States’ first lunar lander since Apollo is set to lift off today with human remains aboard.

An American spacecraft is set to set down on the moon for the first time in over 50 years. The ‘Peregrine’ lander, built by Astrobotic, a Pittsburgh-based firm, is scheduled to lift off Monday morning at 2:18 AM ET, according to Guardian. NASA said on Friday that there is an 85 percent chance of good weather for the launch on Monday morning.

In 2024, NASA will launch five payloads on a commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) mission to the Moon. The first launch under the agency’s CLPS initiative will take place on Jan. 8, 2024, when Astrobotic’s Peregrine (Peregrine lander) will launch from Space Launch Complex 1 (S1) at Cape Canaveral, Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, using a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan rocket,” according to a NASA press release.

Peregrine One’s suite of payloads will explore the Moon’s water molecules, conduct radiation and gas measurements around the spacecraft, and analyse the moon’s thin outer layer of gases. These measurements will help scientists better understand how solar radiation impacts the lunar environment,” NASA said.

On February 23, 2022, if all goes according to plan, the Peregrine spacecraft will make landfall in the mid-latitudes of the Moon, in a region known as Sinus viskositas (Bay of Stickiness).

Peregrine, according to CBS News, is home to 20 experiments and international cargo, including six instruments from NASA and a sensor worth $108 million.

Peregrine is also home to more colourful cargo, such as a shoe box-sized Carnegie Mellon University-built rover, a virtual Bitcoin, cremated remains, and DNA, including the remains of Star Trek creators Gene and Clark, as well as a dog. Other cargo includes personal memorabilia, artwork, letters from children around the world, and more.

A successful launch would put Astrobotic on track to become the first privately owned company to make a controlled, or ‘soft’ moon landing. No other private company has ever made a soft moon landing or soft landing on any other celestial body.

There’s a lot riding on this mission,” said John Thornton, chief executive of Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic, which is spearheading the mission. “I’m excited and nervous at the same time. I’m a little scared because there’s so much at stake.”

Peregrine’s commercial payloads, however, have caused some controversy. Navajo Nation has written to NASA asking for the launch to be postponed due to the presence of capsules containing human remains on board.

Navajo cosmology places a great deal of importance on the moon. To suggest that it could be used as a place of rest for human remains, is deeply troubling and unacceptable to many of our people and other tribal nations,” Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren said.

After the accident, the space agency announced that it would continue to consult with tribes on these issues in the future.