Mormon Life on the Moon

I’m old enough to remember the moon landing, 50 years ago today. And I’m old enough to admit that I thought humanity would be much farther along in exploring our nearest neighbor than we are. But I’m encouraged by recent activity — it feels like we are close to going back and going back permanently. If I’m right, then it won’t be too long before members of the church are on the moon, eventually on a permanent basis.

So, I’ve been wondering, in a somewhat lighthearted vein, what will life be like for church members who are on the surface of the moon?

Here’s some thoughts and questions:

  • The most immediate need will likely be for the sacrament. Because it is basically food, it shouldn’t be too hard to procure, since bread and water will be part of what is sent with any astronauts. The church members who have already been to space (Don Peterson, Don Lind, Jake Garn and Rick Searfoss, IIRC) may have already faced this. Anyone know? I suppose the bread available may not have been very bread-like — and when bread is eventually produced on the moon or in low gravity, it may not be what we’re used to!
  • I don’t imagine the word of wisdom will be too much of a problem. It is generally accepted that astronauts need to maintain excellent health. Of course, alcohol will still likely be used for celebrations and tea and coffee will likely still be available, so church members will still need to find polite ways of declining. On the other hand, humans are quite inventive, and I won’t be surprised if inebriating substances and illicit drugs become available. But this isn’t any different from here on earth, and if anything keeping the word of wisdom might be easier on the moon.
  • Water seems like a major issue. If someone decides to join the church on the moon, will baptism be possible? I assume it will, since water would be recycled after the baptism. I wonder if the fluid dynamics of water in low gravity will make baptism more difficult? Do you have to hold someone under the water longer to give the water enough time to cover them? And, since we’re wondering, is it possible to baptize someone in microgravity?
  • Another potential problem would be garments, at least I assume it might be a problem under a space suit (I assume astronauts where whatever the like inside pressured cabins). At some point, when astronauts regularly have to be in spacesuits for long periods of time, will garments be suitable? Or will we need garments of another material to match the requirements of working in a spacesuit?
  • And since we’ve discussed garments, what about the Temple? Clearly we won’t have a Temple on the moon or in space anytime soon — there won’t be a need for it until humans are living there permanently AND there are enough church members to justify it. But what about when there are a few living there more or less permanently? The cost of a “temple trip” will be, well, astronomical.
  • Beyond the problems above, I suspect that there might be some benefits. Many astronauts report what is called the “overview effect”—the experience of looking at the Earth from space and the feeling of unity and awe that it inspires. Astronauts claim that this is a spiritual experience unlike anything else they have experienced.

What do you think? What might life for church members on the moon be like? Or will past church leaders be right that we’ll never go there (which we might interpret as never settling there permanently)?

14 comments for “Mormon Life on the Moon

  1. I can report that I have actually worn a spacesuit, when I was doing neutral buoyancy testing in grad school. You definitely do wear underwear beneath the inner layer of a spacesuit (known as the Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment or LCGG). Those things can’t really be washed, and that would be kind of gross.

    The issue with water is likely not going to be fluid dynamics, it’s going to be that water (and space) is going to be in very short supply during the early years of a lunar settlement. And there will be no vessel suitable for baptism. If you want a font you’re going to have to fly a font to the moon. The cost of launching mass to the moon currently is something like $100,000 per kilo. Once you get a self sustaining lunar colony established and are birthing children there that is likely to change, but that will take some decades.

  2. Also for fun, what life was like on the moon in the 19th century: O.B. Huntington: “Nearly all the great discoveries of men in the last half century have, in one way or another, either directly or indirectly, contributed to prove Joseph Smith to be a Prophet. As far back as 1837, I know that he said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do—that they live generally to near the age of a 1000 years. He described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style.” The Young Woman’s Journal Vol. 03 1891-1892, a publication of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Associations of Zion.

  3. Buzz Aldrin took communion while he was on the moon. Our ability to have the emblems of the sacrament on a moon colony will be the least of our concerns.

  4. fancyroseblog, I think its an issue of how long you are wearing a set of clothing. Marie only has to wear that clothing while she is performing — a matter of a few hours at most. It is conceivable that Austronauts might go for several days in the same clothing.

    In addition, if I understand Glen Henshaw’s comment, the clothing itself may have special requirements, so the typical fabrics used to construct garments may not meet the requirements of the mission. If those requirements last for a significant time (Astronauts spend as long as 6 months or more on the ISS), then I think most active Mormons would want to be able to wear garments that meet the requirements.

  5. Glen, what about an inflatable font?? Couldn’t we contract with Bigelow Aerospace to make one that will work? Or maybe an oversized backyard pool will work?? I’ll bet its possible to get an inflatable font that weighs less than 5 lbs.

    FWIW, the news reports I read seem to suggest that there is plenty of water ice on the moon, but we don’t yet know exactly how much effort and power it will take to extract it. We may have more information after the Indian lander that is scheduled to launch on Monday…

  6. A friend pointed out that I misspelled the name of Rick Searfoss. I’ve corrected that in the original post also. The friend reports that he passed away last year at 62.

  7. IIRC, at least one short story in Robert Heinlein’s Future History (was it “the Menace From Earth”?) mentioned in passing — describing the route the teenage protagonist took through the colony — the presence of a Mormon Temple there. So there’s that….

  8. Coffinberry, yes. Also I remember seeing a still from the movie “Starship Troopers” (based on the Heinlein SF novel) that showed a Temple on the moon.

    Unfortunately, none of these literary takes on Mormonism off-world gave it enough thought to see what adjustments we might need to make.

  9. While a missionary in the early 70’s I was stationed in one place where we used a large commercial-grade laundry cart as a baptism font, lined with sheet plastic. Creating a font won’t be the hard part for someone with imagination — lack of water and lack of gravity to keep the water in the font will be the challenge. I see a font with a clear dome over it to keep the audience dry should the baptizer get too energetic in low gravity.
    As far as a temple — a small single room could accommodate both the Endowment and act as a sealing room. Just add a small, no-oxen baptistry and a Celestial room. Some of the newer temple designs are for buildings that accommodate only 20 people to an Endowment session; this and something even smaller could fit in a wing or a second floor of a chapel. The real problem for getting a temple started will be rotating temple missionaries from earth to the temple and back. :-)

  10. In zero gravity it might be easier to immerse someone since you don’t need a font – you just need to cover the person in a thin layer of water. LOL.

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