45 years ago this week, mankind’s first footprint was placed on an extra-terrestrial world. It was the week man landed on the moon.
“Beautiful, beautiful. Magnificent desolation,’’ said Buzz Aldrin as he became the second person – just minutes after Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong – to set foot on another world on July 20, 1969.
Broadcasting from the moon, Aldrin urged listeners worldwide “to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.’’
A devout Christian, he became the first human to take communion while the spacecraft was on the moon, using a travel kit provided by his Presbyterian pastor,. This was not revealed until years later.
Aldrin recalled: “In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.’
“I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute [they] had requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O’Hare, the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly. I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility . It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”
It’s also interesting to think that some of the first words spoken on the moon were the words of Jesus Christ, who made the Earth and the moon — and Who, in the immortal words of Dante, is Himself the “Love that moves the Sun and other stars.”
Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, chose Dvorak’s New World Symphony to take to the moon in 1969.
Soviet cosmonauts on space station Mir in 1988 requested Pink Floyd.
The first song to be beamed directly into deep space, was Across the Universe by The Beatles, which the American space agency NASA chose to transmit on its Deep Space Network on the 4 February 2008.
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 carried a library of music including Beethoven and Chuck Berry, Bach and Blind Willie Johnson, a raga, a Navajo night chant and Mozart