I have been fascinated with space exploration ever since my middle school science class watched John Glenn launch into orbit on a black and white TV in 1962. In high school I corresponded with our congressman Olin Teague, who became chairman of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics. He sent me a 1,000+ page tome of the NASA space program in 1964. Apollo 8 launched on our wedding day, December 21, 1968. Three days later we listened to the crew read the Genesis account as they orbited the moon.
I have long wondered what went wrong, why we have not returned to the moon in the last half-century. I expected by this time we would be living in a world best described by Arthur C. Clarke in 2001 A Space Odyssey or 2010 The Year We make Contact. Space 2.0 helps put all that in perspective.
A few weeks ago, Stan Rosen, one of my high school classmates, gave me a copy of Space 2.0. The book summarizes the history of space exploration, its current status and projections for future development. Written by Rod Pyle with a Foreword by Buzz Aldrin, the book is dedicated to Stan.
We are apparently on the cusp of an explosion in space exploration, including a burgeoning space economy with private enterprise as a major player in developing infrastructure and innovation. Unlike Space 1.0 (the moon landing Space Shuttle and the International Space Station), the next chapter of space exploration will be driven by entrepreneurs and investors like SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and Space Angels. Some are well on their way.
So, as a people of faith, how do we respond to this unprecedented moment in time?
Pyle writes, “It is instructive to listen to what some of the people who have traveled to space have to say. Their viewpoints are unique– and are often formed by seeing Earth from space, a vantage point referred to as the ‘overview effect.’ This phenomenon was identified by Stan Rosen in 1976 … The resulting impulse prompts the astronauts to share their feelings about the fragility of the earth, the pettiness of human conflict, and the need to work cooperatively for the betterment of all humanity.”
Apollo 8’s reading from Genesis on our first foray beyond earth’s gravity is symbolic, if not prophetic. We carry our faith with us into the heavens. Since God is the creator of it all He knows the farthest star and all the planets, asteroids and comets in between. The further we probe, the greater the mysteries we find and the more we stand in awe. It seems to me God would want us to explore the heavens with vision, creativity and humility. He designed us for this.
“He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite” (Psalms 147:4-5).