Bible in English, The First Lunar Bible (Apollo 14 Mission to the Moon, 1971)
After the tragic fire that killed all three crew members of the Apollo I mission in 1967, Reverend John M. Stout, who had joined NASA in 1962, along with his family established the Apollo Prayer League. The group’s primary purpose was to pray for the safety of the astronauts, and membership rapidly grew to embrace over 40,000 NASA employees. Its goals, among others, were to provide humanitarian relief worldwide and to land the Bible on the Moon. For Stout, the Lunar Bible Project served as a reminder of God’s presence throughout the universe.
Efforts to take the Bible to the Moon on Apollo 12 and 13 having failed, a third, successful attempt was made with the assistance of Apollo 14 lunar module pilot Edgar D. Mitchell. NASA’s weight restrictions prohibited the transport of a conventionally bound Bible to the moon: astronauts were limited to 8 ounces of personal effects to take to the lunar surface. In lieu of a large heavy codex, the Apollo Prayer League adopted the use of a new microform technology known as “PCMI” introduced by the National Cash Register Company in 1964. NCR was able to reproduce an entire King James version of the Bible (a total of 1,245 pages) on a microfilm sheet measuring a mere 1 1/2 by 1 1/2 inches. Mitchell carried 100 of the microform bibles aboard the lunar module Antares, as confirmed by NASA's official manifest. Launched 31 January 1971, Mitchell and the bibles reached the "Fra Mauro Highlands" of the Moon on 5 February aboard the Antares.
Once returned to Earth and released from lunar quarantine, Mitchell presented Rev. Stout with the packet of 100 bibles. Of these, Rev. Stout retained approximately 85 copies of the Bible, and gave the remainder to his brother, James W. Stout, of the “Apollo Prayer League Governing Committee.” Rev. Stout then told his brother that he was permitted to retain or distribute his fifteen or so copies as he saw fit. From among his 85 copies, Rev.Stout segmented an unknown quantity into both 50-page and 2-page text fragments (see following lot). In the accompanying letter of certification signed by both Dr. Mitchell and James W. Stout, this Bible is one of only twelve dual-certified complete copies identified by a distinct serial number.
The present offering is a rare opportunity to acquire an iconic artifact of profound significance appealing not only to the space community but also to the religious and rare book communities as well. For the comprehensive and definitive work on the Lunar Bible Project, entitled The Story of the First Lunar Bible by David Frohman, please visit www.spacerelics.com/apollo