Blue Dot 127: Apollo 8

Dec 21, 2018

The image of "Earthrise" was described by the great American nature photographer as, "the most influential environmental photograph ever taken."
Credit William Anders

Blue Dot continues its look back at the 50th anniversaries of the Apollo program with a look at the very first mission to the Moon -- Apollo 8. Considered by most space historians as the most dramatic and bold mission of the entire lunar program, astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders became the first human beings to leave ride the powerful Saturn V rocket, leave Earth's gravitational well and see the backside of the Moon with their own eyes.

 

Dave Schlom takes us back to Christmas eve 1968 and the epic first mission to the Moon.
Credit collectSPACE
  

That the mission took place at the end of a disastrous year for the United States added to the drama. In 1968, the Viet Nam war took a turn for the worst, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were both assassinated and the Democratic National Convention in Chicago descended into chaos and violent protest. But then at the end of the year, Apollo 8 circled the Moon at Christmas time, giving Americans something to at last cheer about.

     

Liftoff on 12/21/68

The astronauts famously read from Genesis on Christmas eve in a broadcast that was watched by more human beings than any before it. Anders also took the famous "Earthrise" photograph that helped spawn the modern environmental movement. 

 Time Magazine's Jeffrey Kluger, author of Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to The Moon, joins Dave to talk about the epic lunar mission. In the second half of the program, one of NASA's legendary Flight Directors, Glynn Lunney shares his recollections of what it was like to stand in Mission Control during the historic first trip to the Moon.