A priest who is an enthusiast about space hopes to take his interest to greater heights—as a chaplain with the international space station.

Ken Clapham, an Anglican vicar from Over Kellet, near Carnforth, northern England, has good links to NASA.

"Amazingly, they said no-one had ever suggested a chaplain before," he told ENI.

Clapham sees the role as a "mission opportunity," although he stresses that he would minister to crew members of all faiths aboard the station.

He would like to be accepted under NASA's space participation program for civilians. This program has been revived after having been suspended for years, and a woman teacher has already been chosen to take part, Clapham explained.

At 54, Clapham is unworried about the physical demands of living in space. "They took John Glenn [a pioneer astronaut] back into space at 77, so perhaps I'm even too young," he said.

Another 6f Clapham's role models is 60-year-old Methodist minister George Brigham, who in August performed a wedding blessing standing on the top wing of a biplane, 300 meters over western England.

The wedding couple, Caroline Hackwood and Justin Bunn, were facing him on the wings of two other biplanes during the ceremony arranged by the Utterly Butterly Barnstormers air display troupe.

Meanwhile, Clapham nourishes his space dream by taking flying lessons and by talking about space at up to 200 meetings a year in Britain and abroad.

Often he is accompanied by a piece of moon rock that is lent to him from time to time by NASA. After each use, it has to be returned to a secure bank vault.

"Children are fascinated by the rock, and grownups perhaps even more so," said Clapham. The rock allows him to link God and science.

One day he hopes to read Psalm 121 aboard the ...

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