Monday, July 15, 2024

Are We Closer to a Commercial Space Plane?

January 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured

nasa-1Pittsburgh Pa- Jan 31, 2010- Recent news of US President Obama’s proposed NASA Budget has workers of the fledgling Constellation program, the Shuttle’s replacement, crying foul while the avant-garde private space sector are trying to temper their excitement. With only 5 more Shuttle flights scheduled before NASA retires the fleet in 2010, the Shuttle’s successor is years and billions of dollars away from an inaugural launch. To be clear, the last of 134 Shuttle flights comes to an end on September 16th. Today Russia provides Astronauts a space taxi for direct service to the Space Station for a fee.

The president’s proposed budget will be hotly contested in the next coming weeks. What started as President Bush’s plan to establish a base on the moon by 2020 will come to an end because of money. True, President Obama is seeking to increase NASA’s budget by $6B over the next 5 years but the reality of supporting the Space Station until 2020 and installing a lunar base by 2020 can not be achieved. One had to give way to the other.

Relief by the private industry? An independent commission last summer concluded that a lunar base was not possible until 2028 or 2030 given the retraction of promised NASA funding over the Bush years and delays in testing the Ares-1 rocket. The panel cited advances in space technology by the private sector and believed industry could produce a commercial space ship thus reducing the nation’s space transportation costs. President Obama appears to be following the panel’s advice.

The private space sector has been positioning themselves for contracts to move astronauts and cargo to the Space Station and back. The worry by some is that achieving human safety ratings will take time, not that private industry can’t meet the challenge. They also contend that much experience will be lost by abandoning the multi-billion dollar Constellation program. At least 10,000 jobs will be cut at Kennedy Space Center as a result along with an equally sizable number in Houston. In an article by the Associated Press, one private sector advocate dismissed the safety concern by saying we fly Air Tran and Southwest airlines today, not one US government airline. After all, the Shuttle was built by Rockwell in the 70’s and Northrop Grumman built the Lunar Landers in the 60’s. Futhermore there are promising upcoming companies competing for space business too. Space Exploration Technology Corp has a rocket in the test phase called Falcon and a capsule called Dragon. Another is Biglow Aerospace which is building the first commercial space station and a potential space craft provider.

NASA has been trying to privatize some of its operations for two decades. Many of us remember that NASA herald the Space Shuttle as the transportation comercialization of space. Last year NASA said it would give $50M in stimulus for seeding ideas for a commercial spaceship. The winners should be announced soon. Another push comes from the X Prize foundation. They offer up to $30M for a private company to perform robotic and communication tasks from the moon.

So what does the US proposed NASA budget mean for our efforts to place a cross on the moon? The indicators favor competing private industries to literally perform the heavy lifting. NASA will continue to do big things but the routine tasks of space transportation and collecting information on the moon seems headed to be a contracted service. NASA has been driving to this conclusion over the last 20 years. We at Cross on the Moon have contended that today’s 6th and 7th graders would be the ones to work for long periods on the moon. The decision to maintain the Space Station until 2020 has pushed a lunar base for at least 10 years into the future. Perhaps the children being born today will be the ones to work from the moon.

Mankind will certainly reach out beyond the earth as evidenced by the building of the International Space Station. Earth’s people will extend our presence to Mars and beyond with machines first. Practicing one’s faith will not be confined to the gravity of earth. To do so would be to admit that God matters only on our fragile planet.


Hopes for NASA’s moon mission fade
Washington Post Jan 31

NASA May Soon Turn To Private Companies
CBS Jan 31

NASA To Get More Money, But Must Scratch Moon Plan
Associated Press Jan 28

A Faith-Based Reason for a Moon Mission

October 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured

LCROSSPittsburgh Pa- Oct 2009

The moon is the physical force responsible for earth’s weather. It continues to capture human imagination. It is the object of romance and science fiction. Forty years ago humans walked its surface in the name of all mankind. The objective was discovery but going to the moon was also a matter of national pride.

Mankind’s interest in the moon is on the rise again after decades of simmering. The reasons for the renewed interest are still the traditional ones: scientific, political, commercial, and exploration. Each has compelling reasons to fund a return to the moon.

Yesterday a $79 million NASA space mission sent two objects crashing into the moon 4 minutes apart. The first was directed to impact an area suspected of containing water. The second spacecraft guided the first and then measured the debris field by flying through it. In a few days NASA will report the results from this scientific mission. Water on the moon is a big deal when attempting a sustained human presence beyond earth’s orbit.

A new reason for going to the moon surfaced this year. Followers of Jesus Christ want to place a symbol of their faith there. Several reasons can be found at but there is no mistake that this is a new interest that did not exist 2 years ago. It has potential for commissioning the first Christian space mission.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life last week summarized census data for Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Jews. Other census reports placed the world’s Christian population at 2.6 billion whereas the American think-tank reported the number to be 2.1 billion Christians. The BBC article cited 1.57 billion Muslims, 900 million Hindus, and 14 million Jews today.

Will a significant percentage of the world’s Christian population support a moon mission? Until recently, space missions were the domain of large government defense programs. Commercial enterprises quickly recognized profits from satellite communications, weather forecasting, and affordable global location. To answer the call for Christian lunar support, there must be a compelling reason.

Today there are a growing number of private companies offering transportation to earth orbit and beyond. For about $3 million, one can be launched into orbit and earn the title astronaut. For $72 million, the India Space program will fly your payload to lunar orbit. What then would Christians or any denomination gain in funding a space mission to the moon? To answer this requires both a reflection on worship and a vision for the future.

Historically we need look no farther than observing any house of worship. Most have an identifier prominently displayed on the structure. It is mounted at the highest point and often revered with fine craftsmanship. One reason is simple advertising but there is a more significant purpose. For Christians, the cross is where a new covenant began and where they base their relationship with God. Christians therefore have inseparable bonds to the symbol of Christ’s crucifixion. Engineers, artisans, and laborers prominently place the cross to acknowledge God’s importance in the Christian life. In essence Christians are praising Jesus, recognized by 2.1 billion followers to be God. There is perceived glorification if Christians believe placing a cross on the moon to be a form of praise.

Further, our collective future depends on choices we make. Our values influence those choices. Some theologians believe that faith is a gift from God and that we have a responsibility to nurture it. Faith prepares us to make the right spiritual choice.

There is no question that mankind will continue to explore the universe. Some even postulate multiple universes. Will we choose to distance ourselves from God as we explore or will we openly acknowledge our love of God as we march forward? The answer must come from a community’s core beliefs.

If you are a Christian, funding a space mission can be about boldly seeking while praising God who made everything possible. Arguably a relic on the moon is insignificant to those without a nurtured faith. The value of placing a cross on the moon takes meaning when it is coupled to worship. Placing a cross on the moon will take incredible human effort. For Christians, nothing compares with the compassion Christ has for everyone. This however has never stopped true believers from showing passion for Him. Perhaps this speaks to the heart of worship and provides a reason for a faith based mission to the moon.

Can We Buy a Stairway to Heaven?

September 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Faith

Pittsburgh Pa – Sep 2009
Stairway-AngelsMost of us know the English rock band Led Zeppelin’s 1971 song “Stairway to Heaven”. It portrays a woman trying to buy her way to Heaven. Some might say that placing a cross on the moon falls into a category of similar, self-serving needs. This post counters that position on several fronts.

‘There’s a lady is sure [sic], all that glitters is gold, and she’s buying a stairway to heaven’.

Robert Plant’s own explanation of the lyrics was that it “was some cynical aside about a woman getting everything she wanted all the time without giving back any thought or consideration.”
Cross on the Moon is not about buying a stairway to Heaven. Buying passage to the moon is not going to Heaven but entering a harsh, airless place that only 12 men have set space-suited feet upon. Forget the NASA conspiracy theories. Men really went there. It is certainly not “Heaven”.

Perhaps in a metaphorical way we are trying to buy forgiveness. Christians know that price was already paid. The Gospel can help us distinguish going to Heaven from buying our way there. Simply: 1) You have to be perfect to go to Heaven. 2) No one is perfect. 3) That’s why you need a Savior.

To be clear, we are asking for public support to buy a one-way ticket to the farthest accessible place from where Jesus was crucified. A machine will place it for us and machines will be our eyes to the event. The mission will not be a trivial accomplishment and only historic in a reverence sense when God’s people can say they were united in placing it there.

Diving a bit deeper into our motivation: It takes strong character to make the right decisions when, as a people and as individuals, we face hard challenges. Much like the Labrador that loves to fetch the stick or salmon that return to spawn, we are wired to explore. We have a wonderful ability to use logic to advance our collective knowledge. Faith and science are not at odds. In fact, they balance each other. When we don’t have a base for making ethical and moral decisions, horrible things happen. Dr. Bruce Bickel, former pastor and published motivational speaker, said “Character precedes conduct; who we are determines what we will do.”

Cross on the Moon Foundation acts in reverence to put a symbol of Christian faith, that is, a tangible thing to acknowledge that God makes all human achievement possible. Remembering the cross should precede mankind’s advances into the Universe. Our mission doesn’t center on a specific religion. Charities like caring for the homeless, curing the sick, comforting the aged are hugely important. God makes those acts possible because of the spiritual gifts He gives us. But consider that God also gives us the gift to explore. Cross on the Moon is about praising God as we go forward. In a recent post onwww.rfe/ Faith and Reason in The Year of Astronomy-Jan 17 2009 , Guy Castelgandolfo, a Jesuit trained at MIT, said: “Religion tells me about Who created the Universe. Science tells me how He did it.”

The Cross on the Moon Foundation believes it is better to receive a million $1 contributions than one $1,000,000 donation. The real mission is about honoring God. All things originated from Him, including the ability to use scientific reasoning. It should be our hearts desire to give this glory to Him.

Size really doesn’t matter here. A small cross on the Moon means nothing to God. Our web site can’t show how large the Universe is. But as small as we are, God cares for me and for you and all creatures, no matter how much we don’t get it right. While not politically acceptable in an age of “self”, our purpose is to please Him. What “pleases” God is when we gather to honor Him. That’s what Cross on the Moon is about. The first Commandment is honoring God with all your heart, mind, and spirit. This is found in the Old Testament and is the first of the two Commandments Jesus states in the New Testament. All 10 Commandments appear in Christianity, Islam, and the Jewish faiths. These are essential to society and form the foundation of our moral compasses. No one can buy a stairway to Heaven, but God has equipped us to praise Him wherever we go.

Pre-Launch Status (Aug 09)

August 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Performance Stats

launch newsCOM = Cross on the Moon

At the time of this writing (Aug 10, 2009), COM’s web site is one week away from going public. We have been testing our beta site for 2 weeks. Without any announcements, there have been several global comments and all were positive. We had about a dozen donations, mostly from testing the web-site’s e-commerce flow but also a few cash contributions. Most inspiring to date was $6 from Zach, a seventh grader with a keen interest to be an astronaut.

We believe COM is the first Christian Space Mission to the Moon. We are negotiating with a capable technical team who could safely transport the cross and robotically place it on the moon.

The ticket price for any “moon bus” is expensive but we are not shoudering the costs alone. We hope to announce the name of the private enterprise soon. They and COM do not have conflicting interests.

In September, COM plans to post a Christian music video. We appreciate your prayers. COM’s success will only be because our Lord is in control. We are servants using the gift and umbrella of grace He provides.

Stay tuned for more updates….

Michael Clark, Cross on the Moon President

Incorporated July 21, 2009

July 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Foundation

COM = Cross on the Moon

COM filed papers of incorporation in the State of Pennsylvania on July 20th, 2009. This was 40 years after the first man stepped on the moon. We filed papers with the IRS 5 days later for tax exemption. We expected a favorable letter before 2009 tax returns were due April 15, 2010. Instead, we received our tax-exempt status on July 22, 2011.

Our Fed ID is 27-0464654

Our State ID is 3894863

We filed with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a charitable organization. We also published our intent to incorporate as a non-profit with the Pittsburgh Legal Journal and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

COM has 5 directors from which we draw three officers:  executive director (president), secretary, and treasurer. No board member receives a salary.