American Minute with Bill Federer
Manned Space Flight & the Faith of Astronauts
"Godspeed, John Glenn," radioed backup-pilot Scott Carpenter from the blockhouse as the rockets fired up on February 20, 1962.

Astronaut John Glenn piloted Friendship 7, America's first mission to orbit the earth.
Later that year, President Kennedy stated at Rice University in Houston, September 12, 1962:

"Space is there and we're going to climb it, and the moon and planets are there and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there.

And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked."
The first mission to fly around the moon was Apollo 8 in 1968.

The tiniest mistake would have sent them crashing into the moon's surface or plummeting off into endless space.
As they successfully went into lunar orbit, astronaut William Anders snapped the famous Earthrise photo that was printed in LIFE Magazine.
As Apollo 8's three man crew looked down on the earth from 250,000 miles away on Christmas Eve, 1968, Commander Frank Borman radioed back a message, quoting from the Book of Genesis:

"We are now approaching Lunar sunrise. And for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day ..."
Commander Borman continued:

"And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good."
Frank Borman ended by saying:

"And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you - all of you on the good Earth."
Later Frank Borman explained:

"I had an enormous feeling that there had to be a power greater than any of us - that there was a God, that there was indeed a beginning."
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."
Apollo 12 Astronauts Charles "Pete" Conrad and Alan Bean walked on the moon for 31 hours.
Alan Bean later became an artist. One of his painting is of an astronaut kneeling in prayer on the moon, titled "We Came in Peace for All Mankind."
Apollo 13 had an oxygen tank explode, irreparably damaging the craft, President Nixon called the nation to pray.

In sub-zero temperature, the crew pieced together an oxygen filter, jump-charged the command module batteries, and manually steered the ship to land in the ocean near a raging hurricane.
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."
Apollo 12 Astronaut Alan Bean described Apollo 15 Astronauts Jim Irwin and Dave Scott.

Alan Bean stated:

“Jim Irwin was one of my favorite astronauts ... Jim was, unexpectedly, more religious than most of us realized.

I can remember when he and Dave were riding along on their rover near the end of their third EVA and Dave said, ‘Oh, look at the mountains today, Jim. When they’re all sunlit isn’t that beautiful?’ '

Jim answered, 'Really is, Dave. I’m reminded of a favorite Biblical passage from Psalms, "I look unto the hills from whence cometh my help ..." But of course, we get quite a bit from Houston, too.'

Alan Bean continued:

"Jim would later say, 'I was aware on the Moon that thousands of people on Earth were praying for the success of our mission. The hours I spent on the Moon were the most thrilling of my life. Not because I was there but because I could feel the presence of God. There were times I was filled with new challenges and help from God was immediate.'"

Alan Bean concluded:

"Dave and Jim journeyed into space as test pilot astronauts and most of us returned the same way. But Jim changed outwardly.

As he explained, 'I returned determined to share with others that profound experience with God on the Moon and lift man into his highest flight of life.'”
Later, Astronaut James Irwin became an evangelical minister. Of his experience of walking on the moon, he stated:

"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."
John Glenn died December 8, 2016, at the age of 95.

The next day, the Wall Street Journal printed Tom Wolfe's article "The Faith of John Glen."

The article shared shared John Glenn's comments at a press conference in Washington, D.C., April 9, 1959, with other NASA's Mercury astronauts: Malcolm S. Carpenter, Leroy G. Cooper, Virgil I. Grissom, Walter M. Schirra, Alan B. Shepard, and Donald K. Slayton.
Glenn stated:

"I don't think any of us could really go on with something like this if we didn't have pretty good backing at home, really ...

My wife's attitude toward this has been the same as it has been all along through all my flying. If it is what I want to do, she is behind it, and the kids are too, a hundred percent."
Glenn, who had been elected a U.S. Senator in 1974, added:

"I am a Presbyterian ... a Protestant Presbyterian, and I take my religion very seriously, as a matter of fact."
Glenn had told of the Sunday school classes he taught, the church boards he served on and church work his family did, then shared:

"I was brought up believing that you are placed on Earth here more or less with sort of a 50-50 proposition, and this is what I still believe.

We are placed here with certain talents and capabilities. It is up to each of us to use those talents and capabilities as best you can.

If you do that, I think there is a power greater than any of us that will place the opportunities in our way, and if we use our talents properly, we will be living the kind of life we should live."
Astronaut Virgil "Gus" Grissom stated:

"I consider myself religious. I am a Protestant and belong to the Church of Christ. I am not real active in church, as Mr. Glenn is ... but I consider myself a good Christian still."
Astronaut Donald "Deke" Slayton stated:

"As far as my religious faith is concerned, I am a Lutheran, and I go to church periodically."
In addressing Congress, 1962, after his historic flight as the first American to orbit the Earth, John Glenn stated:

"I still get a lump in my throat when I see the American flag passing by."
In 2010, NASA's Constellation program was building new rockets and spaceships capable of returning astronauts to the moon, till President Obama canceled it.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden outlined new priorities in an interview with the Middle East News agency in Cairo, Al Jazeera, June 30, 2010:

"When I became the NASA administrator... President Obama charged me ... perhaps foremost ... to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good."
Though government manned space exploration may have moved into a long-term, preparation mode, commercial companies are actively working on near-Earth manned space projects .

Americans can remember with pride the tremendous achievements of brilliant scientific minds and courageous hearts of those who dared to go into the unknown, and the prayers of the country that bore them up.
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