In this capacity, he befriended the era’s astronauts, including Edward White II, an Air Force veteran and devout Christian who became the first American to walk in space in 1965 on Gemini 4. For White, the space program symbolized something far beyond international prestige: He believed it brought the world closer to the divine. He once told a reporter he hoped to carry a Bible to the moon, but his dream was cut short when he was tragically killed by a cabin fire in 1967 during a routine launch test for Apollo 1.
The following year, Stout honored White by forming the Apollo Prayer League, a support group devoted to praying for the safety of astronauts. As its membership grew, he provided a source of hope and faith to those working tirelessly on the Apollo projects, but he always remembered his friend’s wish for a Bible to reach the moon.
Utilizing groundbreaking microfilm technology developed by the National Cash Register Company during the 1960s, Stout and the Apollo Prayer League sought to create a Bible that would adhere to NASA’s in-flight weight restrictions and could be carried to the moon’s surface. The technology reduced all 1,245 pages of the King James Bible to a microfilm chip measuring 1.5 square inches—a little larger than a postage stamp—that could be read by microscope.