Christians in Space

Many alive today have witnessed the entire history of space flight. Anyone who looked up to see Sputnik cross the sky on October 4, 1957, remembers the panic that set in across the country. The thought of communists beating us to space was intolerable. American prestige sank to a new low when Vanguard, the Navy's attempt to launch a satellite into orbit on December 6, blew up on the launch pad before the watching world. The turning point in the race came with America's first success, Explorer 1, on January 31, 1958. Two key figures in this achievement became bold Christians in the years that followed.

Though technical success in space is a collective achievement, the title "father of the space program" or "world's greatest rocket scientist" could defensibly be given to Wernher von Braun. Only von Braun took space exploration from childhood dreams to reality. By his death in 1977, his rockets had taken man to the moon and probes to Mars, Venus, and Mercury, with the Voyagers en route to the outer planets.

In 1962, an engineer led Dr. von Braun to Christ using a Gideon Bible. Upon pray­ing to repent of sin and receive Christ, the eminent rocket scientist confessed that he felt like a great burden had been lifted off him.

He became a fervent Christian, and prayed for the success of his launches. As Apollo 11 lifted off the pad, he was found reciting the Lord's Prayer. Never pushy about his faith, he spoke openly about it when asked. In 1972, he wrote to the California school board to argue for inclusion of nonevolutionary views in science classes. Popular magazine articles by von Braun discussed science's dependence on Christian faith.

Acts and Facts, April, 2008