Astronauts For Peace

An Editorial by John McConnell


This proposal won support in the White House and was later carried out.
The Mountain View, Mountain View, California April 19, 1961

We wish to congratulate Mr. Yuri Gagarin, the first man to complete a space orbit of the earth. His achievement represents an important turning point in history as man begins to explore the unknown reaches of space. This high goal by its very nature should be undertaken through cooperation on a world-wide scale. In this way billions of dollars could be saved in unnecessary duplication. At the same time, dramatically converting the missiles of atomic destruction into vehicles for man's greatest exploration, would be an effective step toward peace.

Premier Khrushchev has stated that their astronaut completed his trip in the service of all mankind. However, more effective collaboration is needed

if the fears of atomic destruction are to be changed into hope for the future.

There has been increasing cooperation in scientific efforts divorced from the cold war. Leaders in all countries have praised the achievements of the International Geophysical Year, the Atoms for Peace Program and research cooperation in the Antarctic. It is felt by many that these and other cooperative efforts have brought communication and understanding which may lead to more peaceful attitudes in dealing with the serious political and ideological differences that exist.

Meaningful cooperation in space exploration would be another great step forward. It would be childish for us to be held back from pushing for such cooperation by a fear of seeming fearful. It would be a sign of maturity as a nation to push for cooperation because it is right and in the interest of all mankind, regardless of how the box score in the missiles race may stand at any particular moment!

We would like to suggest that in the service of man and in the interest of peace, both President Kennedy and Premier Krushchev encourage actual collaboration in space by the sending of two astronauts, one American and one Russian, in a joint venture of exploration. It would be hoped that these astronauts would not only be equipped with scientific and technical ability, but also with deep human understanding. Should these men stay in orbit for several days or weeks, they could broadcast not only their new perspective of the physical properties of our planet, but a fresh and inspiring perspective of its inhabitants as well.

Certain basic concepts and hopes shared by all humanitarians could be reflected in the messages from these space pioneers.

The idea that we must explore every possibility for sincere global cooperation and make determined efforts to succeed in this in spite of our grave differences. That with new faith, friendship and love, we can create a new world of freedom and order, without the threat of war.

Our new pioneers will see earth as a unit, hurtling through the vast regions of space in search of its destiny. Their new vantage point will also reveal the common destiny and essential unity of the world of flesh and spirit that lies below.

Their message will be filled with wonder and hope.

John McConnell
Earth Trustees, Inc.
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Denver, CO 80246

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June 6, 2005