Years Ago Today, Apollo 8 Wished Earth A Merry Christmas Eve

NASA Bill Anders Space Mars

Image Source Euronews

It's a long, long, long, long way from Gary to the far side of the moon.

KELLY: Oh, right, so you had to get it out before you. He's pushing for a return to the moon, but with real sustainability this next go-around.

To Lovell, the journey had the thrill and romance of true exploration, and provided an uplifting cap for Americans to a painful, contentious year marked by the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, nationwide riots and protests of the Vietnam War. The astronauts' words could not have more perfectly suited the moment.

Meanwhile, the United States in 1967 saw Apollo 1 astronauts Virgil I. It would require the most powerful rocket ever built, the Saturn V, to propel Apollo 8 beyond earth orbit. The biggest gift that we gave was to the American public, to be eventually proud to be an American. The Apollo 8 presentation will also be streamed live on Griffith Observatory's YouTube channel.

Borman was thrilled at the chance to beat the Soviet Union into lunar orbit, scoring a key win in the Cold War.

Even though it would fly farther than any manned spaceship ever had and produce a photograph of the Earth from the perspective of the moon that's widely credited with launching the environmental movement, Borman said he had one overriding goal on the trip.

Nasa is now planning new human missions to the Moon. And I was happy. 'There's a handsome Moon out there, ' noted the radio message beamed up from NASA HQ in Houston.

LOVELL: In the beginning because on 13 I was that close.

It was the furthest humans had ever been from their home planet at that point - and a vital stepping stone on the road to Apollo 11's historic moon landing just seven months later.

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So when you send a Christmas message this year, spare a thought for those messages from the Moon 50 years ago, and the role Australian scientists played in receiving them. It was never broadcast on any of the paid networks on the way to the moon until the explosion.

Looking back at the Earth, Anders can't help being fascinated by its beauty, and so takes three or four pictures every now and then, even though that's not strictly scheduled.

"My main concern in this whole flight was to get there ahead of the Russians and get home".

The Greek god Apollo had a friend who'd sometimes take him for a ride: the sun god Helios. I'll let you say it now.

Lovell remains awestruck by the fact he could hide all of Earth behind his thumb. They soon got confirmation when Lovell radioed, "Roger, please be informed there is a Santa Claus".

JACK SWIGERT: OK, we've had a problem here. Lovell broke the nervous silence as the ship reappeared: "Please be informed there is a Santa Claus".

EPIC's goal is to provide multiple images of Earth per day, to allow us to see how the world is changing over time. We knew these names as well as any when I was growing up. "They're so ossified", he said. And I - God, I wish I had copyrighted that. Cosmonaut Gherman Titov had become unwell in his Vostok back in 1961, but relations between the Soviet Union and the U.S. meant that NASA wasn't privy to all the details. We have had a main B bus undervolt.

Anders: (laughs) You got a color film, Jim? And every time someone has a problem (laughter), they say, Houston, we've had a problem. "It was serendipity saying, 'Humanity, you guys deserve a break, make the most of it'". Commander Frank Borman happened to be turning the command module when it came around on its fourth orbit on December 24th, and the Earth appeared as a blue jewel against the Moon's drab monochrome surface.

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