Monday, July 15, 2024

1968 Christmas Eve…Apollo 8

December 23, 2012 by  
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Apollo-8dDecember 23, 2012- Annapolis MD

Christmas Eve, 1968:  three astronauts recited versus from the Book of Genesis to the people of Earth. Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders did a live presentation wishing us a Merry Christmas from 200,000 miles away. Although several audio postings have surfaced over the years, I hope you will enjoy this link that embeds pictures and music to the message.

Let’s end in prayer from the Agathestos Hymn, 6th Century, Greece as it is often repeated at Christmas:

Hail, thou restoration of fallen Adam:

Hail, thou redemption of the tears of Eve.

Hail, thou heavenly ladder by which God came down:

Hail, bridge leading from earth to heaven…

Hail, land of promise:

Hail thou from whom flows forth milk and honey.

Hail, space for the uncontained God;

Hail, door of solemn mystery.


Ground Zero and on the moon..

July 31, 2011 by  
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Annapolis, MD

The Cross.

The potential use of the cross in the World Trade Center Memorial has been controversial. Many groups such as families of the victims want the cross to be included, while other organizations, notably American Atheists and the Coalition for Jewish Concerns, disagree.

Background from Wikipedia:

The World Trade Center was built using prefabricated parts which were bolted or welded together at the site. This process dramatically reduced construction time and costs. Using this process, t-beams and other types of cross beams were created and used in each of the World Trade Center buildings. When One World

The newly formed American Atheists led by founder Maldalyn Murray O’Hair in 1963 succeeded in banning prayer in public schools (Murray vs Curlett).  She filed suit against NASA and lost. The issue was over Apollo 8 astronauts broadcasting the first 10 versus of Genesis from lunar orbit to the world on Christmas Eve. “For the people on earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you” said Anders just before they slipped behind the moon, in what to date was the most watched television broadcast to date: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth…”.

In the 1960’s, Rev. James Stout was under contract with NASA to coordinate 13 chaplains at the manned spacecraft center in Houston. The Apollo Prayer League was an important support to the Apollo program. Within a month after being formed, the League had 50,000 members, and soon there were prayer groups around the world. One of the projects of the Apollo Prayer League was to put a Bible on the moon. They succeeded but it took many attempts.

What few people do not know is that Frank Borman sent a message from space to earth to be recorded for later playback at his church. From C.L. Mersch’s book “The Apostles of Apollo” she describes the passage Borman chose from G.F.Weld’s “Prayer for Vision, Faith, and Works”

After mission control gave the thumbs up, Borman spoke: “ Okay. This is to Rod Rose and to the people at St. Christopher’s, actually to people everywhere:

Give us O God, the vision which can see Thy love in the world in spite of human failure. give us the faith, the trust, the goodness in spite of all our ignorance and weakness. Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts, and show us what each of us can do to set forth the day of the universal peace. Amen”

Frank Borman was supposed to read this in his church congregation that night but his space mission kept him away. I find this prayer relevant to today’s troubles. Especially in Christian remorse of a crazy man’s killing rampage in Norway that stunned the world.

Did you know Buzz Aldrin performed Holy Communion privately from the lunar module while on the moon? The gravity of the moon is 1/6th that of earth. Buzz said the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. Apollo astronauts were allowed 6 ounces of personal gear to take to the moon. He used his allowance to practice his faith. Aldrin later said: “It’s interesting that the first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food ever eaten there, were communion elements”.

Did you know that Malaysia’s first astronaut practiced his Muslim’s faith by praying to Mecca even though he didn’t know which way to point? “How to Face Mecca from Space” 2007 post is here: Facing Mecca in Space

Did you know that a red covered Bible was left on the dashboard of a lunar rover? It was Apollo 17, the last time men traveled to the moon. The lunar rover was the third vehicle to roll on the moon. It weighed 463 pounds and could carry 2 astronauts plus 1,000 pounds of rocks. Although the astronauts drove about 4 miles on the moon, it was capable of a 50 mile range. Paraffin, the substance of bees wax helped cool its batteries. The rovers were stored under the lunar lander until needed. Did you know that duct tape could not repair a broken fender on the moon?

Besides a full size Bible left on the moon, about a hundred were brought in micro-film form and returned to earth. These were serialized by the Apollo Prayer League and distributed to a wide range of recipients, including Bob Hope and George Bush.

Well, I started this post describing the cross at ground zero and on the moon. There is a connection I leave to the reader.  I end by citing Wikipedia again:

Some saw the crossed metal as a Christian cross and felt its survival was symbolic. Fr. Brian Jordan OFM, a Roman Catholic Franciscan priest, spoke over it and declared it to be a “symbol of hope… [a] symbol of faith… [a] symbol of healing”. One minister at the site says that when a family of a man who died in the attacks came to the cross shrine and left personal effects there, “It was as if the cross took in the grief and loss. I never felt Jesus more.”

A replica has been installed at the gravesite of Father Mychal Judge, a New York Fire Department chaplain who was killed in the collapse of WTC 1 on September 11. Other surviving crossbeams were salvaged from the rubble; one was given to a Far Rockaway, New York chapter of the Knights of Columbus in 2004. Another replica cross was fashioned by ironworkers from Trade Center steel and installed at Graymoor, the Upper West Side headquarters of the Society of the Atonement, a religious order of Franciscan friars.

Furthermore, I find logic in what a blogger at New York Magazine posted:

A cross of steel beams that remained among the rubble of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks, and which became a beacon of hope for Christian rescue workers and mourners, has now become a symbol of controversy after organizers decided to include it in the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at ground zero. An atheist group, the New Jersey-based American Atheists, has filed a lawsuit objecting to the Christian imagery, saying its inclusion “constitutes an unlawful attempt to promote a specific religion on governmental land.”

The issue is that the atheists don’t want this “chance formation of the cross” in the 9/11 Museum. Does that mean the Metropolitan Museum of Art must remove all of the Religious paintings of notable artists down through the ages? That would be a very large portion of the Met in poor shambles. That would have to include the section on Greek Pagan Gods, that is religious too! This lawsuit is not a lawsuit on a Museum piece as is stated, it IS an attack on Christianity, and in my opinion all religions.

As an art restorer in my past, I can say that the 9/11 Cross is being blocked from Ground Zero Museum! Museums preserves history. Yes the Cross may be religious, but it is still part of the history. Fr Judge was highly regarded by the firemen. He was the Firemen’s Friar. He remained with the firemen in the Towers, until their death. The Firemen who survived gave Fr Mychal Judge “Victim 0001”. Fr Judge and the Firemen were able to be courageous because of their belief in the Truth of the Cross. Whether one believes in it or not does not matter, that IS part of the history, and it is still part of our culture.

Can we “see” man-made things left on the moon?

June 11, 2011 by  
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Shot to the moonJune 2011- Moab UT: Recently, we received a heart felt email from a person wishing we would never succeed in placing a cross on the moon in her lifetime. She always wanted to look at the moon and not have a visible artifact left by mankind, even if it were the Christian Cross. I understand her objection and wondered if others believed, like her that we could place something on the moon that would be seen by unaided human eyes on earth. Honestly, I would have the same feelings if for example Cocoa Cola, Nike, or Gatorade started a campaign for placing their logos on the moon to change our view of the night sky.

The short answer is “no, we cannot change the moon’s appearance”. The size of our object would have to be much higher than the Egyptian pyramids. Not even a massive city sky-scraper could we see. In the Apollo program, astronauts could barely make out earth’s landmasses when standing on the moon.

I recently traveled across the US at night. At 33,000 feet, I couldn’t tell if there were car lights on the roads below. However, I could see major cities because they were outlined by their multi megawatt light sources. But at 33,000 feet, small communities remain dark. If you have been to New York City, when you’re in Battery Park, you can see the Statue of Liberty. When you’re on top of the Empire State Building, you will likely need binoculars.

The average distance from the center of the earth to the center of the moon is 238,857 miles but the moon follows an elliptical orbit, not circular one. The moon’s closest approach to the earth is 225,622 miles. See details at [1].

My commercial flight across the US was only 6.25 miles above the earth. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) orbit from 220 miles [4]. They can see the Great Pyramids and the Wall of China. Likewise, we can see the ISS as a faint “star-like” object moving fast against the night sky. If we were to place the entire Space Station on the moon (153 feet long), it would not be visible to the human eye on earth.

To make our inability to see objects on the moon clear, we have left many large objects there that we cannot see. These range from Lunar Landers, 8+, to 4-wheel lunar buggies that allowed astronauts to cover large distances on the moon.

Nation States left behind 6 scientific instruments on the moon called retro-reflectors. Essentially, these reflectors continue to allow us to reflect a special light beam we send to the moon. The light has to be very powerful and precise to target where the reflectors are on the moon for it to work. By measuring the time in picoseconds our light takes to make the round trip, we know the distance to the moon in millimeters. From using a retro-reflector, we know the moon’s distance from the earth increases about 2 cm per year. Laser beams are used because they remain tightly focused for large distances. Nevertheless, there is enough dispersion of the beam that it is about 7 kilometers in diameter when it reaches the Moon and 20 kilometers in diameter when it returns to Earth. Because of this very weak signal, electronic, human eye observations are made for several hours at a time. By averaging the signal for this period, the distance to the Moon can be measured to an accuracy of about 3 centimeters [5].

My point is that any energy source in the visible spectrum would have to be very powerful indeed if we wanted to place a sign on the moon like “Eat at Joes” or shine a light on a massive Christian cross for us to see it on the earth. It’s just not practical to generate that kind of power.

We could consider building a reflector for visible light and use the sun for energy. I need to work the math but the moon’s soil is not an ideal reflector, having optical properties similar to coal. My intuition is we would need something on the scale of the state of Connecticut for the human eye to know something was there. That “something” would require machines to process the surface, perhaps laying hundreds of square miles of reflective film.

Getting equipment to the moon is not trivial. We are just beginning to explore the moon using private funds. A swag at the cost to place a simple lunar rover on the moon and have it last 2 weeks may be on the order of $70 million. Even a hundred of these rovers couldn’t shape the moon’s surface to reflect back a sign like “Drink Coke” from Cocoa Cola” or “Just do it” from Nike.

An optical property that allows us to see the man-in-the-moon is sunlight reflecting from contrasting lunar soils: those on the highlands (light) against those in its lunar mares (dark). Many of these have landmasses the size of Texas and Alaska combined! Giant lunar craters like Tycho, Keplar, and Copernicus also provide us visual references to the lunar surface. They also remind us how violent the universe is.

So let us take something we CAN see of the moon from earth: the lunar crater Copernicus. From earth, if you have exceptional eyesight, the crater appears as a white dot without a telescope. Copernicus is actually 93 km (58 miles) wide and is 3.8 km (2.4 miles) deep. It has crater rays extending 800 km (497 miles) that help us see it. Now that’s a big tattoo!

So what does it mean when we say “Put a cross on the moon”. In its simplest form, the cross could be a logo on a private rover. Escalating from there, we could contract a private company to place a 6 to 8 inch high cross in the lunar surface. By now we know such tokens of our faith would not be seen from earth. Instead, for a brief time, the cross would be seen through the rover’s HD cameras. The perspective would be seeing the cross with our bright blue and white planet in the background, and the stark gray lunar soil in the foreground. Many of us remember the image of an American flag planted in the lunar soil.

We cannot raise anything on the moon that could be seen from earth with the naked eye. Our picture of a cross rising hundreds of miles above the lunar surface is an artist’s symbolic interpretation. Notice we show many hands lifting the moon as our reference to needing many people to support placing a cross there.

Our moon cross will be small. Lunar rovers will be our eyes to see it from earth. Explorers will come later. We will pray for them and they will offer up prayers from the moon. It has been this way since mankind went into the unknown.

But this mission, should you accept it, is more than physically placing a small cross on the moon. It is about recognizing His plan when confronted head on with the universe. It is about acknowledging that God loves us and that we need Him in our lives, even as we are overwhelmed by how small we are compared with the universe. We are important to the Creator. Past explorers knew this and carried the Bible to build their personal relationship with Him.They built sanctuaries in remote places and prayed on oceans, continents and mountaintops. Space explorers will be no different. God’s promises to connect with us are timeless. Hopefully you see that we should not limit our reverence for Him when only on this planet.

Artistic Interpretation



Quantum Entanglement and the Persistence of Faith

August 15, 2010 by  
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August 15, 2010-Pittsburgh, PA. I am not an expert in quantum physics but I worked decades in advanced technology sectors. A recent posting by NPR [1] on quantum entanglement experiments have me questioning core scientific beliefs but not my spiritual ones. If anything, my faith is not shaken when new scientific theories surface. The premise, and now possible proof that something can go faster than the speed of light [2] leads to incredible possibilities like teleportation [3] and information exchanges through time. Things in nature that science couldn’t explain before, like the efficiency of photosynthesis, the compass cells in birds that allow them to navigate [4] , and perhaps the mechanism of telepathy are discoverable in a new field called quantum biology.

At no time have I believed a discovery in science, or an act of engineering to diminish the mystery of God. A mystery in this context is different from a problem. Whereas a problem is something that someone might eventually solve, the mystery of God is something we live with and touches people in different ways.  Harvey Cox, in his book [5] explains the difference between mystery and problem this way:

The mystery of the universe often first confronts us when they (we) feel overwhelmed by its utter vastness. Does it have an edge or stop anywhere? And what is beyond that? Many also feel baffled by the conundrum of time. When did it start, and what was there before? Will it ever end? Then what? Even when they learn about a space-time continuum that is “finite but unbounded,” this hardly answers the dilemma. Then there is the inevitable question our prehistoric ancestors began asking soon after they stood upright. Is the universe friendly, hostile, or just indifferent to human life? ….

The awareness of one’s own mortality raises the question of the meaning of life, and this eventually spawned philosophy, religion, and culture. ….

Again, there are thoughtful people who suggest that since these questions are essentially unanswerable, we should just stop asking them. But what does it mean that we never do stop asking? The sheer persistence of such questions tells us something about what it means to be Homo sapiens, and their (our) intractability demonstrates what science can do, and what scientists agree it cannot, and should not be expected to do. They remind us, as Einstein put it, that “behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly.” ….

Despite the efforts of well-intentioned people who shrug them off as “meaningless,” we do go on wondering and asking, even though we recognize there will never be “answers” to these questions as there are answers, if not provisional, to scientific ones. That is why “mystery” and not “problem” is the appropriate designation. If in some distant future generation people do stop asking them, they will begin to look more like the humanoid robots of science-fiction novels.

Advances in science do not threaten faith today or its future. Instead, think of faith as being evoked by the mystery that surrounds us and not the mystery itself. Faith is a basic posture toward the mystery, and it comes in an infinite variety of forms [5]. Hindu and Buddhist perspectives on time and history differ markedly from those of Christianity and Judaism. Nirvana is different from the Kingdom of God. Furthermore there are radical dissimilarities in views of the human self and its relations to others. All people of faith have in common living with the mystery but it is how they live with it that differs. For this reason, practicing one’s faith while using science to travel among the stars has, and will continue to exist.

Humankind will always ask the deep questions, even as we explore His universe. Christians will persist in a sense of awe and reverence to a loving God as we gain earthly understanding of God’s vast creation. Cross on the moon supports the practice of faith, with a focus on honoring and acknowledging God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit on earth and on other worlds.




[4] The Future of Faith ISBN978-0—06-175552-1, pages 24-26


May 23, 2010 by  
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"Standing in the grassy sod bordering row upon row of white crosses in an American cemetery, two dungaree-clad Coast Guardsmen pay silent homage to the memory of a fellow Coast Guardsman who lost his life in action in the Ryukyu Islands." Benrud, ca. 1945

The single quality that arguably separates humans from other animals is our desire to mark graves to remember and understand life’s mystery. In this behavior we are alone in the animal kingdom. Porpoise use high-level language and many animals like the otter and monkey learn to use simple tools. But early man alone used collections of rocks to mark graves and through history adapted other forms as his world-view grew.     

Comal, Texas: Photo courtesy of Stephan Michaels, January 2008

Family graves were often near the home or community churches but as populations moved to the cities, burial ground became scarce. The “Boot Hills” of the American frontier west were an early attempt to solve the hallowed ground problem. In the 1870’s, major cities in the United States started to turn to large, reserved areas of land for their cemeteries. Simply, the population needed space for the living and there were advantages in having a community of graves outside the city limits in park-like settings.    The economics of caring for these parks created a noticeable segregation for its inhabitants. The wealthy families could afford ground with the best views and large plots for mausoleums and the poor were buried in the lower sections that were prone to flooding and were closely packed together. Some areas of these cemeteries were intended as temporary resting places.     

Thousands of immigrants helped build the U.S. cross-continental railroads that bridged the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Some of these worker’s faiths required that their bones be eventually returned to their home country. The markers for these people were not set to last even a decade in city cemeteries along the train tracks. Unfortunately, money never arrived, in most cases the identities of these hard working people are impossible to trace.   

Simple markers like those shown in the black and white photo of 1944 are views of grave markers in Little Falls Cemetery, Attu, Aleutian Islands, Alsaka. The cemetery was a temporary location for deceased soldiers during the Aleutian Campaign of World War II; the bodies were disinterred after the war and reburied elsewhere.  

Photo: Dmitri Kessel./Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

American Cemetery at Colleville sur Mer. Situated above Omaha Beach, a place where the American military suffered staggering casualties on D-Day, the American cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer contains the remains of nearly 10,000 servicemen who died during the Normandy campaign. With marble crosses and Stars of David stretching as far as the eye can see, the cemetery is a solemn, breathtaking experience that all Americans should share. The average age of the dead at Normandy was twenty two.

Yes, cemeteries have social segregations and veterans are often grouped in areas of special significance or singled out with special inscriptions.  National cemeteries exemplify this tradition of honoring its soldiers and statesmen.

This post about memorials comes on the heels of Memorial Day, a day reserved in United States for remembering its fallen soldiers. Every nation honors its veterans with visits to grave sites to reflect on the ultimate price that was paid. The predominant faith marker is the Christian cross although the Star of David and other symbols mark soldiers’ graves in Battlefield National Monument parks such as at Arlington, Normandy, Manila, and Cambridge. To learn more about these, see Battle Monuments. The Commission administers, operates, and maintains 24 permanent American burial grounds on foreign soil. Presently there are 124,909 U.S. war dead interred at these cemeteries, 30,921 of World War I, 93,238 of World War II and 750 of the Mexican War. Additionally 6,177 American veterans and others are interred in the Mexico City and Corozal American Cemeteries.    

To be sure, there is a commercial aspect to Memorial Day in that our society treats the day to foster increased weekend commerce ranging from appliances to mattresses sales. But the core meaning remains to remember and give honor to those that died for us. That resonates with followers of Jesus. Here, the cross has significance for those remembering and those in remembrance. Christians know they will be both through their eternal life.   


Well, so far we touched on memorial parks, segregated cemeteries, and the use of the cross to mark graves, especially those of soldiers in National Memorials. As mankind explores, it shouldn’t be a surprise that individuals will take their faith with them. We used the early American West “Boot Hills” as a burial place example but won’t the same be needed by moon settlers? Eventually men and women will die on the moon. They will be buried there. Some will make the ultimate sacrifice for their nation or perhaps our world.      

Shouldn’t the symbol that marks these lunar graves be one of choice? Will there be a Lunar or Martian Memorial Park? The same needs mankind has to understand the mystery of life will continue beyond earth’s orbit. The economics of space will constrain the return of human remains in the way railroad worker bodies couldn’t be returned to their country. Believing we will outgrow our need for God is just wrong. Mandated identical flat plates on the moon to mark our heroes’ graves seem too sterile. We need our faith and should envision a collection of moon markers one day with at least a few being crosses.      

In 1917, after the Battle of Vimy Ridge in May, a Canadian burial officer decided to use shell craters as mass graves and in a crater at Zivy, near the village of Thélus, he buried 53 bodies

For more information, please see our May 2010 Newsletter.


Should We Advertise for Christ?

April 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Faith, Featured

Florida Space Coast- Apr 1, 2010: 

Every day we are slammed with requests to buy this or subscribe to that. Billboards appeal to our sexual desires, our food choices, changing our hair color, loosing weight, or appealing to our compassion. While driving to work, radio commercials share the ride with true content only a small percentage of our travel time. Television is no better. Commercials have higher volume than the programs we tuned in to watch. We are shouted at, emailed to, seduced and frightened into giving up our attention and often our values to get the “deal”.

This constant barrage of requests is directed at all age groups. Peer pressure to own THAT car or be seen wearing THOSE shoes is real. The requests are overt. They are on cereal boxes, sides of buses, on park benches and in Internet searches. Children are manipulated to ask for the popular toy or movie relics. Sport teams hawk shirts, hats, and even underwear. It takes significant effort to avoid advertisements on a minute to minute basis.

How can we put God first in this cacophony of worldly requests?  With so many asking for our attention, reflecting on the importance of God in our lives seems reserved to the time we spend in houses of worship. One answer of putting God more into our lives is to reserve time each morning and evening to thank Him for what He does for us each day. The moment we first wake and the seconds before we sleep are wonderful commercial free times to have conversations with God.

So what has this posting have to do with Cross on the Moon? The answer is in the belief that corporate advertisements will not stop. Sponsorships for big projects will always be needed. Building private spaceships to reach the moon and perform work there will require investors. Advertising helps pay for the mission when tax-funded programs fade away.

Private corporations will place a mobile machine on the moon before the end of 2014. One task the small rover has will be to travel the length of 5 football fields or more. The rover has to broadcast to the earth in high definition television. It will be a global event, complete with advertising campaigns before, during, and after the machine crawls or hops its way across the lunar surface. Advertising will help offset the mission costs. The unmanned event on the moon will be hard for the public to ignore. Many will say it will be historic because it will be a moon landing accomplished by private enterprise, not by a government. As always, financial support of risky projects is difficult but even more so when done privately. Still, sponsors of the successful moon mission have an incredible opportunity for a global audience.

The total cost for the mission will be over $100 million. We know this from past lunar missions. There are a lot of technical risks but over 30 teams have entered the competition. Google along with the X Prize Foundation, a non-profit charity has offered a $30 million incentive to the first privately funded team to accomplish their mission. They are offering a prize as a catalyst, in the same spirit as sponsoring the crossing of the Atlantic by powered flight that Charles Lindberg won. When he landed in Paris, few people imagined the business that air travel is today. Many entrepreneurs believe the moon can sustain future industries. For the companies that take a risk, one reward is advertising their logos while the rover has power to broadcast.

In the Google X Prize requirements, the lunar rover must look at itself at one point in the mission and broadcast by television the Google Lunar X logo applied to its chassis. Other sponsor logos can surround Google’s logo but center attention belongs to Google.

Cross on the Moon believes a simple cross decal should be on the chassis too. It will unfortunately be nestled with logos of industry giants and brands that want your patronage along with a host of others trying to get your attention. But the Christian cross will be a statement to the billions watching from earth that although mankind applies science and technologies to reach for the stars, we take our passion for Christ with us.

Your Christian decal will not be the largest or the flashiest design on the lunar rover. It won’t have the best placement in the sponsor area. But the symbol of the cross represents eternal life to billions on earth. Without the symbol of faith, we again become overwhelmed by worldly messages and forget who made all things possible.  

Let’s not be awed by graphics of corporate sponsors the days when the rover broadcasts from the moon. Instead, we can quietly seek out the plain cross symbol and recognize it for what it means on earth and in your hearts. Understand that it is through faith that all great works of man are done. The men and women who design the rockets, assemble the rover, and guide it on its mission have relationships with God. They attend church, pray regularly, and make moral decisions and raise families based on the person and works of Jesus Christ. The machine that goes to the moon and the rover that travels on its surface will be a brief extension of us. Faith is an integral part of our being human.

Any machine man places on the moon will eventually loose power and stop broadcasting. It will be forgotten in time. No one will see the machine from earth, even with a powerful telescope. However, the rover that goes to the moon will far outlast any man-made artifact on earth, even the Egyptian pyramids. Therefore, we think it is fitting that such a persistent object, destined to be viewed by billions, be graced with our connection to Jesus.

Are We Closer to a Commercial Space Plane?

January 31, 2010 by  
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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

Who Owns the Moon?

December 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Faith, Featured

onthemoon0719_330Legal experts say the moon can not be claimed by countries and citizens of those countries under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty which has been ratified by 100 UN countries, including the United States. “The moon is just another continent across a different kind of sea”said Peter Kokh, president of the nonprofit Moon Society. In a National Geographic quote from National Geographic on-line:

The process of colonizing the moon’s challenging landscape will change the needs and wants of the society that settles there-just as desires of English colonists changed when they got to the new world.

So if we take these two thoughts: 1) the moon is just another continent across a different kind of sea, and 2) when humankind settles an uninhabited continent, it will adapt based on the desires of its colonists, then having faith-based missions to the moon today are a means to lay ethics for the future.

On July 20, 1969, astronauts stepped onto the moon and planted an American flag—not to claim the moon but simply to commemorate the U.S. role in the first moon landing. Planting a symbol of sovereignty on the moon does not entitle a country to lunar ground. In this spirit Christians intend to place a cross on the moon; to lift up their belief in God, the creator of the universe. The act is not a form of manifest destiny.

Separation of Church and Space?

It is naive to believe governments and industry can separate church from space. Freedom to worship should be fundamental and granted to all. Colonizing the moon and beyond will take extreme effort and sacrifices from individuals. Respect, not ignorance of faith should prevail. Faith is important as we celebrate, rejoice, sing, and yes, grieve. Instead of seeking exclusivity of one faith on the moon, the future of colonizing it and beyond requires recognizing that the moon is open to all. Perhaps a council of theologians to represent people of all faiths should be formed.

Acts of Worship in Space

Cross on the Moon understands the controversy to worship on the moon. They may be the first to place a symbol of faith there but there is no expectation to be exclusive in this regard. For traveling through space, humankind requires different types of ships than ones that float on water or lift themselves with air. Then as now people will carry their faith  to distant shores for future travelers and residents. These are the times to prepare.

Joy to the World… to the moon and beyond!

God Bless Everyone.

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.

X-Rays from Space: NASA dubbs ” hand of God”

August 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured

handofgodCambridge Ma- Apr 2009: We have already seen pictures of his eye … now we have the first image of the hand of God.

A ghostly blue cloud seems to form an outstretched thumb and fingers grasping a ball of fire.

The amazing image was taken by NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory, which is orbiting 580km (360 miles) above the Earth.

It recalls pictures of the Helix planetary nebula, with its blue centre surrounded by white clouds which earned it the nickname “the eye of God”.

The hand was created when a star exploded in a supernova, creating a rapidly spinning 20km-wide star called a pulsar, which is deep inside the white blob at the hand’s wrist.

The pulsar is spewing out enormous amounts of electromagnetic energy, creating a dust and gas cloud so wide it would take 150 years to cross at the speed of light.

The red disc is a separate gas cloud. The fingers are thought to have been created as energy passed from the pulsar to the gas cloud.

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