NASA was rushing to get to the Moon, in order to meet President Kennedy's goal. Carrying out the task on time was much more important than anything that might be found, or done, on the lunar surface. Away from Houston, however, others were dreaming of something much more sublime. In November 1967, the Reverend Terence Mangan published detailed architectural plans for a chapel on the Moon. “The moon chapel is not just one more or one other 'service' or 'gathering place,'” he explained.
It is the reassurance of the Christian pilgrim of tomorrow, who has ex-
changed staff for space helmet, that there is a dimension and goal to
his quest not measurable in terms of galaxies or light years alone, and
the reminder to him that the greatness of his task and the glory of his
accomplishment still find their fullness when brought to and offered
at the Eucharistic Table of the Lord.1
The proposal might seem bizarre or amusing today. At the time, however, it was completely sincere. Recognizing this sincerity, it seems rather sad that a proposal so glorious should have been attached to a mission so desolate.
Christian dreamers aside, the manner in which the space race had been conducted ensured that it was never allowed to be anything other than a race. In order to attain top speed the Americans had stripped away from their space program all the cumbersome scientific and emotional baggage that might otherwise have given it purpose and meaning. Apollo was lean but empty. Armstrong admitted as much in a press conference on July 5. “The objective of this flight is precisely to take man to the Moon, make a landing there and return,” he said. “The primary objective is the ability to demonstrate that man, in fact, can do this kind of job.”2