The Voyage of Apollo 8: The 40th Anniversary of Mankind's First Trip to the Moon [Slide Show]
When three U.S. astronauts became the first humans to leave Earth's gravity field, some NASA experts gave them a 50-50 chance of making it home alive
HAPPY HOMECOMING: The
Apollo 8 crew gets a heroes' welcome on LaSalle Street in Chicago, January 18, 1969. From left, Navy Capt. James Lovell, Jr., waving; Air Force Col. Frank Borman; and Air Force Lt. Col. William Anders. AP Photo/Preston Stroup
THE RIGHT STUFF OF HISTORY: The
Apollo 8 crew stands in the doorway of a recovery helicopter after arriving aboard the carrier U.S.S. Yorktown. Left to right are Astronauts Frank Borman, James A Lovell, Jr., and William A. Anders. NASA
TRIED, TESTED AND TRUE: The Apollo 8 capsule, sans crew, is hoisted aboard the recovery aircraft carrier, U.S.S.
Yorktown, after its successful splashdown on December 27, 1968. All spacecraft systems operated within allowable limits and all the mission objectives were achieved. NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA-MSFC)
TRAIL BY FIRE:
Apollo 8 leaves a fiery trail as it reenters Earth's atmosphere at around 25,000 miles (40,200 kilometers) per hour. This photograph was taken using a U.S. Air Force airborne lightweight optical tracking system (ALOTS) camera mounted on a KC-135-A aircraft flown at an altitude of 40,000 feet (13,000 meters). Apollo 8 splashed down on December 27, 1968, at 10:51 A.M. Eastern Standard Time in the central Pacific approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) south-southwest of Hawaii. NASA Headquarters-GReatest Images of NASA (NASA-HQ-GRIN) Advertisement
HOME RUN: A half Earth photographed by the
Apollo 8 astronauts on their return trip from the moon. The terminator crosses Australia. India is visible. The sun reflection illuminates the Indian Ocean. NASA
STILL TRANQUIL: Looking northwest into
Mare Tranquillitatis (the Sea of Tranquility). The three prominent craters are Taruntis F [ lower right corner]; Taruntis E [ center]; and Cauchy between the two linear features. The Cauchy scarp, on the near side of the Cauchy crater, is formed by one to three faults. Seven months later Apollo 11 would touch down in the Sea of Tranquility bringing humans to the surface of another world for the first time. NASA
CLOSE-UP OF THE FAR SIDE: This oblique view of the lunar surface looks south across the far side crater, Tsiolkovsky, centered near 129 degrees east longitude, 21 degrees south latitude. Its flat floor is much darker than the surrounding surface and most of the mare material observed by
Apollo 8. The dark area is about 80 miles (125 kilometers) across. The crater's light-colored central peak [center] is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) in length. A high sun angle accentuates the contrast between the light and dark material. NASA
Apollo 8's crew members were the first humans to lay eyes on the moon's far side, whose features are much more rugged than the familiar face visible from Earth. One of its most notable features is the large crater Tsiolkovsky. This view is east toward the lunar horizon. Tsiolkovsky is approximately 150 miles (240 kilometers) in diameter. It was first identified and named by the Russians from photographs taken by their unmanned Luna 3 spacecraft in 1959. NASA Advertisement
GRAY CHEESE: This view of the lunar surface looks southward toward Goclenius and other large craters near 45 degrees east longitude and 10 degrees south latitude in
Mare Fecunditatis (the Sea of Fertility). Goclenius, [ foreground] with rilles traversing its flat floor, is about 45 miles (70 kilometers) in diameter. One rille, approximately horizontal, runs across both crater rims and its central peak. In the background, the two large craters with smooth floors are Colombo A [ left] and Magelhaens. Magelhaens A, the crater with the irregular floor, is about 20 miles (35 kilometers) in diameter. NASA
IT'S ALL BACK THERE: High-oblique view of the moon's surface showing Earth rising above the lunar horizon, looking west-southwest, as photographed from lunar orbit. The center of the picture is located at about 105 degrees east longitude and 13 degrees south latitude. The lunar surface's color is probably less pronounced than that in this image.
OTHERWORLDLY PERSPECTIVE: Photograph of nearly full moon taken from
Apollo 8 at a point above 70 degrees east longitude. Mare Crisium (the Sea of Crises), the circular, dark-colored area close to the center is near the full moon's eastern edge when viewed from Earth. Mare Nectaris (the Sea of Nectar) is the circular mare near the terminator. The large, irregular maria are Tranquillitatis (the Sea of Tranquility) and highlands to the south. Lunar far side features, unable to be seen from Earth, occupy most of the right half of the picture. The large, dark-colored crater, Tsiolkovsky, not visible from Earth, is near the limb at the lower right. The crater Langrenus [ center] is at the eastern edge of Mare Fecunditatis (Sea of Fertility). NASA
WORLDLY PERSPECTIVE: This view of Earth from
Apollo 8 on its way to the moon shows much of the Western Hemisphere and the eastern Pacific Ocean, including most of North America, extending to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. Mexico and Central America are outlined under clouds. Nearly all of South America is cloud-covered, except the Andes mountain chain along its west coast. NASA Advertisement
CRAMMED IN SPACE: Commander Frank Borman at the controls in the equipment-packed command module cabin. This still photo was made from movie film taken by an onboard 16-millimeter camera.
FIRED UP: The Apollo 8 spacecraft, sans moon lander, atop a Saturn 5 rocket launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, at 7:51 A.M. Eastern Standard Time on December 21, 1968. It was the first time astronauts rode into space on the moon rocket designed by Wernher von Braun.
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA-MSFC)
WELL-SUITED: From left to right, the crew of
Apollo 8, James Lovell, Jr., command module pilot; William Anders, lunar module pilot; and Frank Borman, commander, pose on the steps of a Kennedy Space Center simulator in their space suits. NASA-JSC-GRIN Advertisement