By Bill Federer
The first mission to walk on the moon was Apollo 11, which blasted off JULY 16, 1969, from Cape Kennedy.
President Richard Nixon stated in Proclamation 3919:
“Apollo 11 is on its way to the moon. It carries three brave astronauts; it also carries the hopes and prayers of hundreds of millions of people …
“That moment when man first sets foot on a body other than earth will stand through the centuries as one supreme in human experience …
“I call upon all of our people … to join in prayer for the successful conclusion of Apollo 11’s mission.”
On July 20, 1969, Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, landed their lunar module, the Eagle.
They spent a total of 21 hours and 37 minutes on the moon’s surface before redocking with the command ship Columbia.
President Richard Nixon spoke to the astronauts on the moon, July 20, 1969:
“This certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made from the White House … The heavens have become a part of man’s world …
“For one priceless moment in the whole history of man all the people on this earth are truly one … one in our prayers that you will return safely to earth.”
President Nixon greeted the astronauts on the USS Hornet, July 24, 1969:
“The millions who are seeing us on television now … feel as I do, that … our prayers have been answered …
“I think it would be very appropriate if Chaplain Piirto, the Chaplain of this ship, were to offer a prayer of thanksgiving.”
Addressing a joint session of Congress, September 16, 1969, Commander Neil Armstrong stated:
“To those of you who have advocated looking high we owe our sincere gratitude, for you have granted us the opportunity to see some of the grandest views of the Creator.”
On the Apollo 14 mission, February 6, 1971, Astronauts Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepard left a tiny microfilm copy of the King James Bible aboard the lunar module Antares on the moon’s Fra Mauro highlands.
On Apollo 15’s mission, 1971, Astronaut James Irwin became the 8th person to walk on the moon. He spoke of leaving Earth:
“As we got farther and farther away it diminished in size. Finally it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful marble you can imagine.”
“That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate, that if you touched it with a finger it would crumble and fall apart.
“Seeing this has to change a man, has to make a man appreciate the creation of God and the love of God.”
Later becoming an evangelical minister, Astronaut James Irwin spoke of his experience walking on the moon:
“I felt the power of God as I’d never felt it before.”
Astronaut Mike Mullane flew the Space Shuttle Discovery, 1984, then, after the Challenger disaster, he flew Space Shuttle Atlantis, 1988, 1990.
In his book, Riding Rockets, Mike Mullane told of the night before a launch, sleepless with apprehension, he checked his nightstand for a Bible but found none. He then wrote:
“I didn’t need a Bible to talk to God. I prayed for my family. I prayed for myself. I prayed I wouldn’t blow up and then I prayed harder that I wouldn’t screw up.”
On October 28, 1998, Astronaut John Glenn flew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. At age 77, he was the oldest person to go into space—36 years after he had been the first American to orbit the earth in 1962.
John Glenn observed the heavens and the earth from his window and stated November 5, 1998:
“To look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible. It just strengthens my faith. I wish there were words to describe what it’s like.”