Monday, December 24, 2012
44 years ago: On December 24, 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 read the first 10 verses of the Book of Genesis, King James version, as they orbited the moon in what was at that time the world’s most watched television broadcast. Launched on December 21, Apollo 8 was the first crewed spacecraft to leave Earth orbit, reach the Earth's Moon, orbit the Moon (10 times) and return safely to Earth. The three-astronaut crew (Borman, Lovell and Anders) became the first humans to travel beyond low Earth orbit, the first to see Earth as a whole planet, and the first to directly see the far side of the Moon. The mission was also the first crewed launch from the new John F. Kennedy Space Center. Pictured: “Earthrise” from Apollo 8, Christmas Eve, 1968. This phenomenon is visible only for someone in orbit around the Moon, since the Moon’s rotation is synchronous with the Earth.