Christmas from the Moon – Apollo Eight Mission

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In 1968 NASA Astronauts were orbiting the Moon on Christmas Eve and shared special messages from space.
In 1968 NASA Astronauts were orbiting the Moon on Christmas Eve and shared special messages from space.

In 1968 NASA Astronauts were orbiting the Moon on Christmas Eve and shared special messages from space.
In 1968 NASA Astronauts were orbiting the Moon on Christmas Eve and shared special messages from space.

Apollo Eight First Christmas From the Moon

HOUSTON – The crew of Apollo Earth has a message for those of you on Earth. Forty-five years ago NASA astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders were away from home for the Christmas holiday. Those early missions to explore space were important. They also focused many here on Earth to the fact that humanity is sitting on this planet and in many ways it is all we have.

The Crew has a Message for Earth


The three astronauts were on the first orbital mission to the Moon. The United States was focused on many issues, the growing turbulence of the era, and the growing peace movement to fight the Vietnam War were growing.

The NASA Administration was also focused on keeping a challenge from President John F. Kennedy to put a man on the moon and return him safely to the Earth before the end of the decade.

NASA states, “The mission objectives for Apollo 8 included a coordinated performance of the crew, the command and service module, or CSM, and the support facilities. The mission also was to demonstrate translunar injection; CSM navigation, communications and midcourse corrections; consumable assessment; and passive thermal control. The detailed test objectives were to refine the systems and procedures relating to future lunar operations”.

Humanity Took Over the Science

The Astronauts on Christmas Eve during that mission read from the Bible reading from Genesis.

Christmas Eve, 1968 was one of the most turbulent, tragic years in American history drew to a close, millions around the world were watching and listening as the Apollo 8 astronauts – Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders – became the first humans to orbit another world.

As their command module floated above the lunar surface, the astronauts beamed back images of the moon and Earth and took turns reading from the book of Genesis, closing with a wish for everyone “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.”

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.