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Blue Dot 127: Apollo 8

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William Anders
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Blue Dot continues its look back at the 50th anniversary 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.

 

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

 
 
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.

 

 
 
 
 

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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.

Dave Schlom has taught the physical sciences at Corning Union High School since 1991. A lifelong amateur astronomer and astronomy educator, he has a passion for both the earth and the space sciences, which are the principal areas of focus for guests on Blue Dot. He started doing radio interviews on space and astronomy topics for local stations like KFM and KPAY in the 1980s and into the 90s, where he was a popular go-to guest for local radio personalities. He is also an expert on the history and geology of Lassen Volcanic National Park, where he has served as a volunteer for decades. Dave enjoys a quiet life at home with his partner in life, Cheryl, and their two dogs, Elvis and Pearl, at their Red Bluff residence.