The Nasa Apollo 8 Mission

Relive our historic adventures in space exploration with this collection of CDs and DVD covering the history, events and images of NASA and the Air Force.
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The Apollo 8 spacecraft, like all Apollo missions, is marked by a series of firsts for the US Space Program. Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to leave the Earth's gravity and to successfully orbit the moon. The mission achieved important operational experience for future missions and tested the Apollo command module systems, including communications, tracking, and life-support, in cis-lunar space and lunar orbit, and allowed evaluation of crew performance on a lunar orbiting mission. The crew photographed the lunar surfaceand gathered scientific information necessary for future Apollo landings.

Six live television brodcasts were done by the crew during the mission, including the famous Christmas Eve broadcast (see end of article) where the astronauts read excerpts from the book of Genesis. The mission was a total success and all mission objectives were met. The flight carried a three man crew: Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James A. Lovell, Jr., and Lunar Module Pilot William A. Anders.

Highlights of the mission include:

  • The mission was the first manned flight on the Saturn V rocket. S
  • The mission was launched from Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center and was the first manned use of the Moonport.
  • The five first-stage engines developed combined thrust of 7.5 million pounds at liftoff.
  • The crew were the first humans to journey to the Earth's Moon.
  • The first pictures of Earth from deep space were taken by the Apollo 8 crew.
  • The crew reached a new world speed record: 24,200 mph (38,938 km/hr).
  • The mission represented the first live TV coverage of the lunar surface.
The Apollo 8 Mission Event List and Timeline

Launch     December 21    07:51:00 am 00:00:00
Earth orbit insertion     08:32:35 am 00:11:35
Translunar injection     10:41:37 am 02:50:37
Lunar orbit insertion     December 24    04:59:20 am 69:08:20
Transearth injection     December 25    01:10:16 am 89:19:16
Splashdown     December 27    10:51:42 am 147:00:42

The Apollo 8 Christmas Eve Broadcast

Diagram of the Apollo 8 MissionApollo 8, the first manned mission to the Moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts; Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders did a live television broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and Moon seen from Apollo 8.

Lovell said, "The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth."

They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis.

William Anders:

"For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you".

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness."

Jim Lovell:

"And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day."

Frank Borman:

"And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good."

Borman then added, "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."