NASA is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mission “Apollo 8 in Lunar orbit” with the first sight of Earth from Moon, named as ‘Earthrise”, a celebration of the moment when the world witnessed first of its “Earthrise”.
The Earthrise, the image of Earth from Moon, Magazines, newspapers, and televisions around the world all shared this image. For the first time, earthbound humans experienced the sensation of the handful of astronauts. The image is proof of our cosmic perspective and our place in the universe.
Fifty years ago, on Dec 21, 1968, NASA launched Apollo 8 from Pad A, launch complex 39, Kennedy Space Center at 7:51 am, EST.
In this mission, Frank Borman is the commander of the crew of Apollo 8, James Lovell is commander of the Module pilot and William Anders working on Lunar Module pilot.
Apollo 8 is second manned spacecraft mission flown in the US Apollo space program, is first manned spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit, reached to Moon and orbited around Moon and returned to Earth.
The crew of Apollo 8 were the first humans to witnessed and photographed an Earth i.e. Earthrise and to escape the gravity of the celestial body.
This spacecraft is 3rd flight, 1st crewed launch of the Saturn V rocket and was the 1st human spaceflight from the Kennedy Space Center.
(Video is about the actual events of this mission and NASA’s recollection about this mission)
Precisely on 24th Dec 1968, Mission control lost contact with Apollo 8, which is good for entering into Moon’s gravitational field. With successful Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) burn, they became a first crewed spacecraft in Lunar Orbit.
For next 20 hours, Apollo 8 remained in orbit around Moon, At the beginning of the 4th revolution, the Astronauts caught the sight of the Earth appearing above the Lunar limb, Anders snapped some of the most iconic photos of the Apollo program.
At that moment, history created. The moment which imprinted on history as Humanity’s incredible achievement of sending its first emissaries around the moon and back, and our realization of the smallness of our species and mysterious vastness of the universe.
After this, precisely on schedule, Apollo 8 was again headed back to earth, James Lovell radioed to Houston, “Please be informed, there is a Santa Claus”. Because that is Christmas day in Houston.
Apollo 8 took 68 hours to travel the distance to the Moon. The crew orbited the moon ten times over the course of twenty hours, during this revolution, they read the first ten verses from the Book of Genesis.
This mission cemented the path of Apollo 11 to Fulfil US President J.F. Kennedy’s aim of human landing on Moon.
Apollo 8 astronauts returned to Earth on December 27, 1968, when their spacecraft marked down in the Northern Pacific Ocean.
The crew members were named as “Men of the Year” by Time magazine in 1968 upon their successful return.
The broadcast of this mission was one of its kind, it is estimated that one billion people from 64 countries around the world were tuned in to this Christmas eve broadcast.