The First Lunar Bible
The quest to land a Bible on the moon was born of the deaths of three Apollo 1 astronauts who died in a flash fire on the launch pad on January 27, 1967. One of these astronauts, Edward White II, told a reporter shortly before his death that he hoped one day to carry a Bible to the moon. Stout knew an historic opportunity was at hand—an opportunity to fulfill Ed White’s dream and see the Bible carried to the moon. Out of the ashes of the tragedy came the Apollo Prayer League with a mission to land a Bible on the moon in Ed White’s name.
Due to NASA’s strict size and weight restrictions on Apollo spacecraft, a standard Bible was too large and too heavy to be stowed onboard. it was necessary to find a Bible small enough and light enough to fit in an astronaut’s personal preference kit (PPK), a small pouch roughly 4” x 8” permitted by NASA for astronauts to carry personal items and mementos of their choice which could weigh no more than eight ounces. The Bible would also need to conform to NASA-specified requirements for stowing onboard the Apollo spacecraft.
Fortunately, a new microfilm technology had been developed by National Cash Register Company (NCR) whereby large documents could be reduced to the size of a large postage stamp. The first book selected to demonstrate the technology was the King James Bible by World Publishing Company, announced and sold by Edmund Scientific at the 1964 World’s Fair. There, on a small piece of film the size of a color slide, were all 1,245 pages and 773,746 words of the Holy Bible. The Bible weighed only a fraction of a gram.
This was the answer Stout was looking for. But how to get it to the moon was yet another matter.