Home > The Slow Grow > Church Planting = Rocket Science

Church Planting = Rocket Science

Lunar Excursion Module

I learned something.  Thought you may find it interesting.  Between 1969 and 1972 NASA used the LEM (or Lunar Excursion Module) to get astronauts from the command module orbiting around the moon to the lunar surface.  It’s the strange looking craft Neil Armstrong stepped down off of when he said “One small step…”  6 of these successfully landed on the moon.

It had 2 main rockets.  One, the descent rocket, helped it land slowly.  It had a throttle, which was a new idea with a rocket.  Usually rockets were all the way on or all the way off.  The other, the ascent rocket, took it off the lunar surface and reunited it with the command module for the return trip home to earth.

This ascent rocket had to be absolutely reliable.  If it didn’t fire, the astronauts would be doomed to sit on the surface of the moon and run out of air.  To assure reliability the rocket scientists decided on a simple hypergolic propellant – rocket fuel and oxidizer that ignite on contact.  No pumps and no igniter to go wrong.  It had a problem, though.

It was so extremely corrosive that it would ruin the engine after each use.  Every time they would fire the engine it would have to be completely rebuilt before it could be used again.  This meant that each engine got only one burn.  It also meant the rocket that was put on the LEM to return the astronauts back into space could never be tested.  They wouldn’t know if their rocket would get them home until the moment they pushed the button.  They had to travel roughly 240,000 miles to find out if they would be able to come home.

I get people asking me what it’s like to be a church planter.  When they ask me that question, they can mean different things, but I think this is going to be my answer…this story about the ascent rocket for the LEM.  It’s 240,000 miles of work getting it only half way there, and then.  And then…only God can get it off the ground and into orbit.

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