50 years ago today the mission of Apollo 8 ended., It ranks as one of the most important space missions in history and launched from Cape Canaveral On December 21, 1968. Apollo 8 was the first ever space mission to leave the earth’s orbit and to circle the moon. In the process they became the first humans to see the earth as a whole planet from space. It took the crew three days to travel to the moon and on Christmas Eve they made a famous broadcast back home which was at the time the most watched television program ever.
The mission was launched from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on December 21, 1968. At the time it was the longest US manned space mission lasting 6 days and 3 hours.
Frank Borman who was the commander of Apollo 8 went on to be the Chairman of Eastern Airlines and was based in Miami from 1975 to 1986. In many ways Borman revolutionized the commercial aviation industry by pushing for more fuel efficiency in planes, though his inability to handle Eastern’s unions led to his ouster when the airline was sold to Texas Air.
Jim Lovell who was the pilot on the mission was supposed to land on the moon during the Apollo 13 mission. But as I am sure all of our readers are aware, that mission became ill-fated but was as NASA officially describes it “a successful failure.”
William Anders made his only spaceflight on Apollo 8. He went on to a successful career in business and served as the US Ambassador to Norway under President Ford. On this mission Anders took two of the most famous photographs in history, above the “earthrise” and below the first ever image of the earth in its entirety.
Below is the famous image of the moon taken during lunar orbit by the crew.
Apollo 8 ushered in the golden age of space exploration. America’s imagination was captured and the Soviet Union was defeated in the race to the moon. The mission also interestingly enough was the first time Silly Putty was flown into outer space…