Last year, I took a break from my tradition of wishing my readers Seasons Greetings from NASA but thought I might return this year. It turns out that NASA has the perfect video for the occasion, Apollo 8: Around The Moon and Back, celebrating 50 years of Earthrise on Christmas Eve 1968.
50 years ago, three NASA astronauts embarked on a journey that would take them “Round the moon and back”. The Apollo 8 mission proved the performance of the command and service module. This historic mission launched on December 21, 1968 to demonstrate a lunar trajectory and was the first crewed launch of the Saturn V rocket. On Christmas Eve, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders were the first humans to orbit the Moon and the first to see an Earthrise above its surface.I could stop there, but I think Seeker's How Apollo 8 Survived the Risky Trip to the Far Side of the Moon provides a more complete view of the mission as a whole, not just the events leading up to Christmas Eve.
A last minute shake up in 1968 sent a manned crew outside of Earth’s orbit for the first time. The crew of Apollo 8, in a very short amount of time, would have to learn how to reach our nearest celestial neighbor and then return safely to Earth.That's it for space history for now, although I plan on the 50th anniversaries of the rest of the Apollo missions next year. In the meantime, may my readers have a pleasant Christmas Eve. I will return for a post on Christmas itself.