December 27 – Apollo 8

The Apollo missions played an important part in the exploration of space.  Apollo 8 was only the second maned mission to go into space.  On December 21, 1968, a crew of three men launched into space.  The crew, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders, became the first humans to orbit another planet.  They had the chance to meet with astronauts from the Gemini missions and also the great Charles Lindbergh.  Then they launched into space and into history.  However, early on, their flight had problems.  Their commander, Frank Borman, became ill and was not able to do much.  This caused flight control to question whether the trip should continue, or if the crew should alter their path to return to earth.  When Borman began to feel better, the flight continued on its projected path.  It began to orbit the moon, and the crew became the first humans to see the spectacular sight of the earth rising.  They took pictures that could hardly capture the beauty of the colorful earth compared to the bare, desolate moon.  On Christmas Eve, they were given a powerful platform.  They were informed that they would have the largest audience to ever listen to the human voice, and they were suppose to address these waiting masses.  So they did.  This was there message:

William Anders:

“For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you”.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”

Jim Lovell:

“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”

Frank Borman:

“And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.”

“And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you – all of you on the good Earth.”

On Christmas morning, the crew broke free from the lunar orbit confirming their exit by reporting to mission control that, “Roger, please be informed there is a Santa Claus.”  On December 27th, the crew splashed down into the Pacific ocean.  Other space flights would overshadow this humble flight, but nothing can ever fully erase the wonder and magic of that Christmas flight that showed the earth for the first time the true beauty of the earth.

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The famous earth-rise photograph taken on the Apollo 8.

Sources:

https://www.nasa.gov/topics/history/features/apollo_8.html

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/missions/apollo8.html

http://www.space.com/17362-apollo-8.html

https://airandspace.si.edu/explore-and-learn/topics/apollo/apollo-program/orbital-missions/apollo8-facts.cfm

http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/apollo8_xmas.html

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