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How wine became the first liquid to be poured and consumed on the moon

Aldrin had brought the items from Houston's Webster Presbyterian church, where he was an elder, with the intention of celebrating the first Christian communion on the surface of the moon (a ceremony in which a congregation will consume wine and bread to enter a closer relationship with Christ).

He then poured the communion wine out of a pouch and into a thimble-sized chalice given to him by Dean Woodruff, the pastor at his church.

"I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup."

Aldrin then consumed the bread and swallowed the wine, becoming the first person to consume a 'meal' on the surface of the moon.

"It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon and the first food eaten there, were communion elements."

The story of Aldrin's communion service wasn't immediately made known to the public, however.

The original intention behind Adrin's plan had been to commemorate the first lunar landing with a symbol that, as Aldrin put it, "transcended electronics and computers and rockets."

To remain calm and collected in the moments after he and Armstrong touched down on the surface of the moon, Aldrin decided to commemorate the occsion with some kind of ceremony, or expression of gratitude.

After discussing the matter with his pastor, Dean Woodruff, the two men settled on the idea of taking communion.

"I had thought in terms of doing something overtly patriotic, but everything we came up with sounded trite and jingoistic," writes Aldrin.

In addition to taking communion, Aldrin has planned to share the event over radio with the general public.

The plan was cut short by Apollo 11 flight crew operator Deke Slayton, however, who feared that the ceremony would provoke unwanted legal challenges from atheism advocate Madalyn Murray O'Hair, who had sued NASA in 1968 after the Apollo 8 crew had read a passage from the book of Genesis live on air.

"Go ahead and have communion, but keep your comments more general," Slayton told Aldrin.

In his memoir, Magnificent Desolation, Aldrin recounts the message he ended up transmitting to NASA before taking communion:

"I would like to request a few moments of silence… and to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way."

After taking communion, Aldrin then quietly read a verse of scripture (a passage from John 15:5) he had written on a slip of paper:

"I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me."

Aldrin later acknowledged that, if he were to do it again, he might have chosen a more inclusive way of commemorating the occasion.

"Although it was a deeply meaningful experience for me, it was a Christian sacrament, and we had come to the moon in the name of all mankind..." he writes in Magnificent Desolution.

"Perhaps, if I had it to do over again, I would not choose to celebrate communion." 

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