History repeats itself and the Virgen de Luna, patron of the Cordoban towns of Pozoblanco and Villanueva de Córdoba, will once again play a part in a Nasa space mission.
The revered image will be present thanks to the initiative of Carlos García-Galán, an engineer from Malaga at Nasa, and his colleague Eduardo García Llama, who have designed a special T-shirt to mark the occasion of the launch.
The two Spanish engineers – both involved at a high level with the lunar project – have recorded a video at the Johnson Space Center in Houston in which they show the embroidered T-shirt with the phrase 'Virgin de Luna. Protector of space missions and astronauts'.
As Carlos García-Galán explains in the video, the Artemis program "is going to revolutionise space exploration in the coming decades" and the launch of the Orion spacecraft is the first step.
Both García Llama, who will be responsible for guidance and control of the spacecraft, and García-Galán, who is responsible for the integration of the European service propulsion module, explain that it is a T-shirt similar to the one they will wear on the day of the launch in Houston. The duo also sent an affectionate message to the brotherhoods of the Virgin of Luna, of Pozoblanco and Villanueva de Córdoba and to the whole region of Los Pedroches. Both expressed their desire to visit the statue of the Virgen de Luna as soon as possible to give one of the T-shirts as a souvenir.
The initiative of the Spanish engineers, which has the approval of Nasa, means another step forward in the relationship that the American agency and the brotherhood of Pozoblanco have established since the late 60s. During the first lunar mission the then secretary of the brotherhood, Felipe Sanchez Urbano, sent several letters to the agency with images of the Virgen de Luna, which received a response and official thanks, signed by astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. It is believed that the Virgin of Luna's image accompanied them during the 1969 Apollo 11 trip.
After two aborted launch attempts due to technical issues Artemis 1 has two launch windows available in the next two months. The first runs from 19 September to 4 October, and the second is open from 17 - 31 October.