Apollo 8 Mission Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary On Christmas

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This Christmas the humanity has something extremely important to celebrate: Apollo 8’s 50th anniversary.

NASA’s first mission to the moon, Apollo 8 was a success in every way, and it’s still seen as the agency’s boldest and most dangerous mission. This is also one of the most important missions of all time.

“Apollo 8 was an extremely bold mission, invented and carried out in a four-month period to beat the Soviet Union to be first around the moon. And it tested all the systems involved in the lunar landing, except for the landing itself and the lunar module,” says John Logsdon, George Washington University professor emeritus.

The mission involved a considerable risk to put three men on a new rocket for the first time and send them straight to the moon.

The mission had been organized in only four months to reach the moon by the year’s end. They were in such a hurry to beat the Soviet Union.

“Apollo 8 flight was perhaps the most dangerous because it was new. We weren’t planning to go to the moon that early with just the command service module,” says Apollo 8 astronauts, Jim Lovell.

The iconic Earthrise photo

Liftoff of the Saturn V occurred on the morning of Saturday, December 21, 1968.

On Christmas Eve, the module slipped into orbit around the moon and before bedtime, the astronauts wished everyone on Earth a Merry Christmas.

The earthrise picture is probably the most impressive one because, before that flight, no one had ever thought about photographic Earth. The astronauts were told to get pics of the moon for potential landing sites.

Compared to the barren grey lunar landscape, the beautiful blue and white imageofEarth rising was a time of “rising environmental consciousness, the environmental movement seized on the image of one planet as a kind of symbol of the necessity of taking care of that planet,” says Logsdon.


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