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Apollo 8

"Houston, Apollo 8. Please be informed, there is a Santa Claus. NASA Photo Credit: NASA Image Copyright: EarthToTheMoon.com
TV Photo Credit and Image Copyright: EarthToTheMoon.com
Crew Signed
                      Apollo 8 Crew Photo

                              Of Apollo 8 Launch Taken From My
                              Television in 1968

Crew Signed Apollo 8 Crew Photo
Apollo 8 Launch As Seen On My Television in 1968
The first time that humans left their home planet to travel to another celestial body was in the month of December in the year 1968.  The destination of Apollo 8 was the Moon.

The crew consisted of Commander Frank F. Borman II, Senior Pilot James A. Lovell, Jr., and Pilot William A. Anders.

Apollo 8 was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with a Saturn V launch vehicle on December 21, 1968.

After a brief checkout of the vehicle in Earth orbit for one and one half orbits, the powerful J2 engine on Saturn V third stage was ignited to send the crew on their way to the Moon.

Apollo 8 arrived at the Moon on December 24,1968.  The service propulsion system engine on the service module was used to insert Apollo 8 into lunar orbit. 

The crew remained in orbit for 10 revolutions of the Moon. During that time they reported observations on the color and texture of the surface.  They also took turns reading three passages from the book of Genesis in the Bible near the end of a television transmission.  This was a very moving transmission from the Moon on Christmas Eve.

Bill Anders radioed: "For all the people of Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you." Anders continued, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness."

 Jim Lovell followed, "And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.  And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.  And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day."

Frank Borman read, "And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.  And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good."

To close out the first television transmission from lunar orbit Borman ended with, "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you - all of you on the good Earth."

When I was growing up, Christmas Eve was always special at my house.  It was the time when Santa Claus would deliver Christmas gifts.  No gift was ever more special for me than being able to watch the live transmission from the crew of Apollo 8 in lunar orbit.  Taking photographs of the television coverage with my grandmother's Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 box camera is a memory that I will always cherish.

The service propulsion system engine on the service module was ignited to send the crew of Apollo 8 back toward the Earth. This burn was completed on the far side of the Moon and out of radio contact with Earth.  Upon reestablishing contact after that communications blackout, Astronaut Lovell exclaimed, "Houston, Apollo 8. Please be informed, there is a Santa Claus."

Six days after they had left on December 27, 1968, astronauts Borman, Lovell, and Anders splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. The primary recovery ship was the USS Yorktown.

The United States had trumped the Soviet Union in the space race. No single mission did more to discourage the Soviets from going to the Moon than did Apollo 8.

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UPDATED : January 6, 2007
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