Humanity received a special gift that Christmas.
An estimated two billion Americans huddled around their televisions to take in the very distant voices of Cmdr. Frank Borman, command module pilot Jim Lovell and lunar module pilot William Anders—and they had life-changing images from space to share.
Nearly a quarter of a million miles above our fragile planet, the three men had won the global “Space Race” to the moon. In a moving tribute to their journey and our country’s mission, they took turns reading from the book of Genesis, humbled to be the first humans to reach lunar orbit.
The San Diego Air & Space Museum honored the brave crew of Apollo 8 during its 40th anniversary celebration of flight at Balboa Park in San Diego, Calif. Anders, Borman and Lovell were joined by fellow astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 12’s Allen Bean and Gene Cernan from Apollo 17, along with NASA dignitaries and aviation icons like Bob Hoover.
The first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong credits the Apollo 8 crew for making those historic steps possible. Apollo 8 was the first to leave the Earth’s gravitational field, traveling to another celestial body, and then re-enter the planet’s atmosphere at never-before-seen speeds. They broke records for the NASA program, making America the victor in the space exploration race with the Soviet Union.
Anders, Borman and Lovell celebrated the 40th anniversary by remembering the mission with their wives, family member and close friends. One of the most famous moments in history was forever captured during the voyage—the “Earthrise” against a backdrop of vast nothingness.
“It showed the frailty of the Earth,” said Lovell. “The Earth reminded me of a Christmas ornament rather than something we could just kick around forever.”
For more information on the museum, visit [http://www.sandiegoairandspace.com].
• Dec. 21-27, 1968
• The crew’s work paved the way for Apollo 11 and the first lunar landing.
• They orbited the moon 10 times and captured the first photos of Earth from deep space.
• The famous image of “Earthrise” was captured as the men hovered 69 miles above the moonscape.