Something a little different this morning…
On Dec. 24, 1968, Bill Anders orbited the moon as lunar module pilot with the Apollo 8 crew on humanity’s first voyage to another world. It was he who took the iconic Earthrise photo on Christmas Eve, a gift of perspective in a turbulent year. Here, Anders reflects on Apollo 8’s historic flight, Earthrise and the impact a photograph can have for Space.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Fifty years ago today, I was part of a crew of three men orbiting the moon, cocooned inside a 13-foot by 11-foot space capsule. Inside, there wasn’t much space at all. Outside, the immensity of our galaxy boggled our minds and dazzled our eyes.
Despite substantial risks in moving up the launch date in order to get ahead of the Soviet Union’s space program, we set world records for speed, altitude, and distance. We became the first humans to leave low-Earth orbit, and to orbit another celestial body. Ours were the first human eyes to see the far side of the moon. Months later, Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the lunar surface.
The audacious nature of what NASA achieved in winning the space race remains unsurpassed. Those efforts fueled further progress that continues today, often through private enterprise. NASA demonstrated how American ingenuity could overcome nearly any obstacle.