VIDEO: Crew Members of Apollo 8 Deliver Christmas Eve Message In 1968
By NASA // December 24, 2019
'...Merry Christmas and God bless all of you - all of you on the good Earth.'
ABOVE VIDEO: On Christmas Eve 1968, Apollo 8 crewmembers Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders made a live broadcast from orbit around the Moon.
(NASA) – On Christmas Eve 1968, Apollo 8 crew members Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders made a live broadcast from orbit around the Moon.
The first humans to orbit the Moon, and at the close of a tumultuous year, the crew took turns reading from the opening lines of the biblical book of Genesis.
Commander Frank Borman closed the broadcast with the following poignant words: “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.”
“We were told that on Christmas Eve we would have the largest audience that had ever listened to a human voice,” recalled Borman during 40th anniversary celebrations in 2008. “And the only instructions that we got from NASA was to do something appropriate.”
“The first ten verses of Genesis is the foundation of many of the world’s religions, not just the Christian religion,” added Lovell. “There are more people in other religions than the Christian religion around the world, and so this would be appropriate to that and so that’s how it came to pass.”
ABOVE VIDEO: Astronaut Jim Lovell, veteran of two Gemini flights as well as the legendary missions of Apollo 8 and Apollo 13, recalls his thoughts on launch day of Apollo 8 in 1968, when humans first left the Earth’s orbit for the moon.
The mission was also famous for the iconic “Earthrise” image, snapped by Anders, which would give humankind a new perspective on their home planet. Anders has said that despite all the training and preparation for an exploration of the moon, the astronauts ended up discovering Earth.
The rest of us can better imagine what it was like for the crew when they made that iconic photo, thanks to a 2013 NASA visualization which draws on richly detailed maps of the moon’s surface made from data gathered by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
Also in 2013, the first ever “Earthrise” photo, taken by NASA’s Lunar Orbiter 1 in 1966 and restored and enhanced by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project in 2008, was sent to NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission in lunar orbit, using the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration system.
The Apollo 8 astronauts got where they were that Christmas Eve because of a bold, improvisational call by NASA. With the clock ticking on President Kennedy’s challenge to land on the moon by decade’s end, delays with the lunar module were threatening to slow the Apollo program. So NASA decided to change mission plans and send the Apollo 8 crew all the way to the moon without a lunar module on the first manned flight of the massive Saturn V rocket.
The crew rocketed into orbit on December 21, and after circling the moon 10 times on Christmas Eve, it was time to come home. On Christmas morning, mission control waited anxiously for word that Apollo 8’s engine burn to leave lunar orbit had worked. They soon got confirmation when Lovell radioed, “Roger, please be informed there is a Santa Claus.”
The crew splashed down in the Pacific on December 27. A lunar landing was still months away, but for the first time ever, humans from Earth had visited the moon and returned home safely.