Wednesday, 26 June, 2019

Remembering 1968: Apollo 8's Christmas greeting from the moon

Облетевший Луну астронавт сделал скандальное заявление Apollo 8: Around The Moon and Back
Sandra Phillips | 26 December, 2018, 22:25

There's something so human in this, like you can feel how rushed and excited the crew was to capture this fantastic sight for the first time in human history.

By December 25, nearly everyone on Earth was engrossed with Apollo 8. There were all yelling for cameras, and we started snapping away. The engines are armed.

It was a dicey decision as the Saturn V rocket, the only one capable of taking humans to the moon, had undergone only two test flights and had numerous issues. If successful, the crew would be the first humans to leave the earth's gravity, fly to the moon and to orbit it. Landing on the moon would be the next goal. And the trip was full of danger and full of surprises. The mission capped a hard and conflict-filled year in the US, offering a rare moment when people could feel good about their planet.

Australia's Honeysuckle Creek tracking station acquired the Apollo 8 signal in December 1968.

"Ortelius, who the luminous Apollo allowed to speed through the high air beside him in his four-horse chariot, to behold from above all the countries and the depths that surround them".

Anders is asked if, even today, he still looks up at the moon in wonder.

The year 1968 is remembered for its unprecedented accomplishments: success of the Apollo program and the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The Vietnam War was raging. Both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated.

From Aug. 26 - Aug. 29, violence and civil unrest marred the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Fifty years ago, Apollo astronaut William Anders captured one of the most iconic images of our home, revealing just how fragile it is, in the depths of space.

On Christmas Eve, we watched as Frank Borman, James Lovell and James Anders broadcast from space, giving us our first glimpse of what earth looked like from afar.

As the bleak moonscape swept past below them, they read from the Book of Genesis: "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth". And darkness was upon the face of the deep. And those 20 hours can be summed up with one stunning picture. The spacecraft's orientation angled their viewports so that they could only see the surface of the Moon passing by, below.

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Anders: Oh my God! Just paint me a picture of what that looked like.

None of the men had thought about what that would mean - that when they came around from the far side of the moon and once again prepared to establish a straight line of radio communication between them and the Earth, there would also be a straight line of sight.

A black-and-white photo of the Earthrise was taken on the same day, showing the Earth rising over a horizontally oriented surface. Anders rushed to snap a picture, and the Earthrise image remains one of the most famous ever taken in space.

SHEEHAN: So I think Bill Anders was quick on his feet thinking this through, and he was able to capture this image, which utterly transformed each of these men.

"So when the Earth came up over the lunar horizon, that's when it really impressed me, as to how much more delicate the Earth was, and colorful", Anders told NBC.

It wasn't just the crew of Apollo 8 that reflected during the flight. "That was a significant achievement in my eyes", Borman explained at the Chicago launch of the book "Rocket Men" last spring. He says something unusual happened afterwards.

LEWIS: Kurson says the difficulty of 1968 washed away for a while.

BORMAN: Hey, don't take that, it's not scheduled.

SHEEHAN: Yeah, let's listen to that, better in their own words, and then I'll comment on that.

A presentation on Apollo 8 will be made at 7:30 p.m.in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater.

"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".

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