On December 27, 1968, two days after Christmas in one of the worst years in the United States, astronauts aboard Apollo 8 returned home after nearly a week in space.
NASA’s mission made up of astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders recorded a number of important championships. It was the first manned space mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the first to reach the Moon (or any other astronomical object for that matter), and the first to orbit the only natural satellite on Earth.
It was, also, the first time that any man had ever seen “Earth Rise”. (Think of the sunrise, other than looking at the Earth from the moon.)
Anders is the one who captured what has since become an iconic image that emphasizes the early steps of humanity beyond the Earth’s surface. And just before Christmas 2020, exactly around the 52nd anniversary of the creation of photography, NASA highlighted this peaceful view of our planet in one of its daily photo drops.
Anders described the moment in an older interview. Apollo 8 had already made several orbits around the moon before anyone on the ship was able to see the way home, as the ship was reversed and moving backward (from an astronaut’s perspective) during its initial rotations.
But then they managed to overturn Apollo 8 and turn to him, “like driving a car around the moon.” You have to remember that at this moment, no one in human history has ever seen the Earth from such a distance first hand. So there was a basic level of excitement for the three men when the house showed up.
I don’t know who said that, maybe we all said, ‘Oh my God. Look at that! ” Anders said. ‘ And the Earth came. We didn’t talk in the field, we didn’t have a briefing, we didn’t have instructions on what to do. I jokingly said, ‘well that’s not in the flight plan’ and the other two guys yelled at me to give them cameras. I had the only color camera with a long lens. So I sailed to Borman in black and white. I can’t remember what Lovell got. Everyone was yelling at the camera, and we started fighting. “
The rest is history and a great tribute to human achievements. The biggest holiday gift anyone could ask for.