January 20, 2019

Apollo 8 Astronauts Captured World's Attention In 1968 Moon Mission

27 December 2018, 04:57 | Ross Houston

Apollo 8 'Earthrise' photographer calls Northwest home

Apollo 8: Around The Moon and Back

An American astronaut who was on board the Apollo 8 manned spaceflight mission to the moon in 1968, claimed that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's quest to send a human crew to Mars is ridiculous.

A few hours later, an Australian tracking station took over as prime data and relay receiving site for the mission. The view of the Earth led us to realise how special was our planet and led me to see it as a self-organising entity, something that the author William Golding called Gaia'. Rather than go all that way just to swing around and come back, NASA chose to test the lunar orbital portion of the Apollo missions by putting Apollo 8 into orbit for 10 revolutions before coming home.

The following day-Christmas Day 1968-the Apollo 8 crew departed lunar orbit and headed back home. Apollo 8 was supposed to be a "D" mission, but without a Lunar Module still in development, that mission couldn't fly. "Given the NASA of today it's absolutely remarkable that they didn't even check up to see what [Borman] was going to propose doing", says Anders.

Sauvante, then 20, stood on the deck of the USS Arlington in his "dress whites" and saluted the Apollo 8 astronauts after they were plucked by helicopter from the Pacific Ocean.

But with a spacecraft now on Mars and the world preparing to mark the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing next summer, the interest in stellar exploration is at its highest for years.

The six-day mission was a spectacular success. When the onboard camera came on, the three astronauts described the tasks they had been performing and their reactions to what they were seeing.

Bill Anders, who was one of the first people to leave Earth, not only doesn't see the point of future manned missions, he is downright against them.

Then everything changed. In September, the Soviet Union launched an unmanned lunar probe, Zond 5, which successfully orbited the moon and returned to earth. Time magazine named the three astronauts "Men of the Year". Apollo 8 was making the ninth of its 10 scheduled revolutions around the moon, and it was time for the crew to "say something appropriate" to a waiting world.

LOVELL: You're absolutely correct that the year was a rather bad year for the United States. It was the first color photograph of Earth from space.

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Borman ended the broadcast 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". "The Voyager mission, outside the solar system, has been absolutely awesome - it's one of the most successful expeditions Nasa has ever done".

This was a global network of instantaneous data and voice communications, at a time when even a single worldwide telephone call had to be booked weeks in advance and was extremely expensive.

Technicians work at Honeysuckle Creek.

Susan Byrum Rountree, photographed in 1968, holds her first camera, a gift that came the day after the Apollo 8 crew broadcast from space.

Honeysuckle Creek was shut down and dismantled in 1981 but its receiving dishes moved not far away to Tidbinbilla. Floating like a jewel displayed on the black velvet of outer space.

According to Kurson, what the astronauts and NASA saw as a successful mission turned out to be a much-needed moment of Peace on Earth.

As for the two Voyager spacecraft, which have travelled the furthest of any object made by humans, they now only have contact with Earth via Australia.

KELLY:.You went around to the back side of the moon.

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