Apollo 14- Lunar Landing
Apollo 14 Lunar Module Antares on the Moon, Feb 5, 1971
Reverend Stout then obtained a second group of microfilm Bibles and split 300 Bibles into two packets: 100 to be carried in the lunar module and 200 in the command module, in case one or the other didn’t make it. Apollo 14 Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell agreed to carry the Bibles on behalf of Reverend Stout and the Apollo Prayer League.
Mitchell, however, requested two modifications to the packaging used for Apollo 13: first, he asked that the American emblem be removed from the cover, as it was important that the US moon landings be viewed as a venture for all nations; secondly, that a unique “First Lunar Bible” be developed that could not be easily duplicated.
To accomplish the latter, the APL envisioned a multi-focal “First Lunar Bible” using Apollo 1 Ed White’s Revised Standard Version of the Bible placed back to back with the King James Version. When reduced to microfilm, each could be viewed separately at different microscope settings. This particular Bible, Stout knew, would be difficult to duplicate.
In keeping with the total count of 512 Bibles flown on Apollo 13, a third packet of 212 Bibles was quietly stored onboard the command module by APL board member Harold Hill. Hill was a NASA microbiologist responsible for decontaminating the spacecraft immediately before and after each flight and had easy access to the capsules. The third group of Bibles was referred to as the “unofficial packet.”
On February 5, 1971, the quest of Reverend Stout and the Apollo Prayer League was finally realized when the spindly legs of Apollo 14 lunar module Antares touched down on the powdery surface of the moon carrying the First Lunar Bible.
Apollo 14 Astonaut Edgar Mitchell (left) returns the packet of flown
Lunar Bibles to NASA Chaplain Rev. John Stout
After their return, Reverend Stout meticulously engraved a tiny encrypted 5-digit serial number in the corner of each Apollo 14 lunar Bible, signifying its sequence and placement in the Apollo 14 lunar module or command module. Collectively, the Bibles became known as the “First Lunar Bibles.”
Also included in the Apollo 13 and Apollo 14 lunar Bible Packets was a small folded certificate, referred to by Reverend Stout as a “plaque,” containing the first verse of Genesis in sixteen languages provided by the United Bible Societies, as these were believed to be the languages spoken by 60% of the world population. The first verse was in English, followed by Spanish, German, Chinese, and so on. On one corner of the certificate were the names of the Apollo crew members who carried it to the moon. On another corner was a listing of the participating organizations.
Also included in the packet was a single microfilm Apollo Prayer League “Lunar Bible Honor Roll” containing 3,569 names of individuals and organizations designated by Prayer League members as having contributed to a worthy cause or to enriching the lives of others. The honor roll list can be easily read under a microscope and contains the names of individuals from all ranks and walks of life, including names such as Billy Graham, John F. Kennedy, Socrates, Jesus, and Martin Luther King Jr., along with everyday citizens. George H.W. Bush listed his daughter, Dorothy, Secretary of State James Reedy, and Houston Astros third baseman Bob Aspromonte. [Click here to see a high-res copy of the Lunar Bible Honor Roll.]
Many of the lunar Bibles were presented to those closest to the project and to museums and dignitaries, such as George H.W. Bush and President Richard Nixon. An unmarked Bible was give to NASA UPI reporter, Preston Kirk, who brok the story of the Lunar Bible landing on the moon which went worldwide. The remaining lunar Bibles were then deposited in the Apollo Prayer League archives, where they remain today. See photos here.
The few in circulation have become historic and religious artifacts sought after by eager collectors, museums, and private investors, each worth potentially thousands of dollars each. While the original glass master of the unique RSV version of the First Lunar Bible remains intact, the whereabouts of the multi-focal microfilm Bible itself remains a mystery.