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(RNS) — Where humans go, faith seems to follow. It’s no less true of NASA’s first manned mission to land on the moon, when astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins made their way farther into the heavens than anyone had gone before.
Here are five faith facts about the moon landing, which half a century later still inspires awe and wonder in people of all faiths and no faith.
Aldrin - Communion - Eagle - Lunar - Lander
1. Aldrin took Communion aboard the Eagle lunar lander.
But Aldrin, who would later describe the mission as “part of God’s eternal plan for man,” was insistent, and officials eventually granted him permission to hold a service under the condition that he keep it quiet.
Aldrin - Pastor - Church - Rev - Dean
Aldrin then approached the pastor of his church — the Rev. Dean Woodruff of Webster Presbyterian Church near Houston — about the idea, where the questions shifted from legal to theological.
Although Aldrin was an ordained Presbyterian elder, it was unclear whether he would be allowed to oversee Communion on his own. But when his pastor asked the Presbyterian Church’s stated clerk, one of the highest positions in the denomination, the official offered a quick yes. Woodruff then procured a small silver cup for Aldrin to carry into orbit, making sure that it would fit the weight requirements.
Plan - Eagle - Lunar - Lander - Moon
The plan finally came to fruition shortly after the Eagle lunar lander touched down on the moon on July 20, 1969. Sitting next to Armstrong, Aldrin pulled out the chalice, wine and bread from his “personal preference kit,” then spoke into the radio.
“This is the LM pilot,” he said, referring to the lunar module. “I would like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give...
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