By Stephanie Zeller NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Half a century ago, Apollo 8 ushered in a new era of space exploration. The missions that followed in close succession would herald these breakthroughs in science and in engineering prowess with drama and color. They would bring a cornucopia of knowledge about the Moon, the origins of our solar system, the nature of our universe, the history of our Earth and even the history of life. In addition to tangible, scientific assets gained from Apollo, the mission brought some degree of unification to a nation fractured by conflict at home and abroad.
Frank De Winne in the Soyuz-TMA spacecraft (Credit: ESA — STAR CITY)
PARIS (ESA PR) — Monday 24 December marks 50 years since Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders snapped an iconic image of Earth rising above the lunar surface.
The image, known as Earthrise, has been credited with sparking an environmental movement. Now, head of ESA’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne Germany Frank De Winne shares his perspective on our planet seen from space.
This week in 1968, the Apollo 8 spacecraft became the first crewed mission to orbit the Moon. Astronauts Frank Borman, Bill Anders and Jim Lovell entered lunar orbit on Dec. 24 and held a live broadcast, showing pictures of Earth and the Moon as seen from the spacecraft and reading from the book of Genesis.
The mission became famous for capturing this iconic “Earthrise” photograph, snapped by Anders as the spacecraft was in the process of rotating. The photo shows Earth rising over the horizon of the Moon and is thought to have sparked the environmental movement. The Apollo 8 mission concluded when the crew splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 27.
Now through December 2022, NASA will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Program that landed a dozen astronauts on the Moon between July 1969 and December 1972, and the first U.S. crewed mission — Apollo 8 — that circumnavigated the Moon in December 1968.
The NASA History Program is responsible for generating, disseminating, and preserving NASA’s remarkable history and providing a comprehensive understanding of the institutional, cultural, social, political, economic, technological and scientific aspects of NASA’s activities in aeronautics and space. For more pictures like this one and to connect to NASA’s history, visit the Marshall History Program’s webpage. (NASA)
Video Caption: In December of 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 became the first people to leave our home planet and travel to another body in space. But as crew members Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders all later recalled, the most important thing they discovered was Earth.
Using photo mosaics and elevation data from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), this video commemorates Apollo 8’s historic flight by recreating the moment when the crew first saw and photographed the Earth rising from behind the Moon. Narrator Andrew Chaikin, author of “A Man on the Moon,” sets the scene for a three-minute visualization of the view from both inside and outside the spacecraft accompanied by the onboard audio of the astronauts.
By Bob Granath NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida
“Apollo 8. You are Go for TLI.”
With these cryptic words spoken on Dec. 21, 1968, NASA’s Mission Control gave the crew of Apollo 8 approval for TLI — trans-lunar injection — permission to become the first humans to leave Earth orbit. Their destination, 234,000 miles away, was the Moon.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Yeah, great words. Great words. Well, thank you, Secretary Wilson. Thank you for that introduction and thank you for your great leadership of the United States Air Force.
And I want to thank our host today, the Kennedy Space Center, Bob Cabana, and the entire team. To General Selva, who joins us here today; to all of our distinguished guests; to General Shess; but especially to the airmen of the 45th Space Wing and your families, it is great to be here at the Kennedy Space Center, the “World’s Premier Gateway to Space.” Thank you all.
And I want to bring greetings this morning, first and foremost, to a great champion of American leadership in space and a great champion of America’s military personnel and your families. I want to bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.
Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Program (Courtesy: U.S. Mint)
The world eagerly watched on July 20, 1969, as Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” E. Aldrin, Jr. took mankind’s first steps on the Moon. This unprecedented engineering, scientific, and political achievement was the culmination of the efforts of an estimated 400,000 Americans and secured our Nation’s leadership in space for generations to come. The Apollo 11 crew—Armstrong, Aldrin, and Michael Collins—safely returned to Earth on July 24, 1969, fulfilling the national goal set in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. Nearly half a century later, the United States is the only country ever to have attempted and succeeded in landing humans on a celestial body other than Earth and safely returning them home.
In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the first manned landing on the Moon, Public Law 114-282 authorizes a four-coin program: a curved $5 gold coin, a curved $1 silver coin, a curved half-dollar clad coin, and a curved 5 ounce $1 silver proof coin. (more…)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Draper PR) — The first time NASA wanted to send humans to the moon it turned to Draper to develop the guidance, navigation and control system that made that possible. As NASA prepares to embark for the moon once more, it has selected a team led by Draper to once again support its mission needs. The Draper team was awarded an Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract vehicle, today to support NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative.
This is part two in a technology series celebrating NASA’s 60th anniversary, featuring excerpts from past and present agency leaders. Read part one— a look back on technologies that enabled early space exploration.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA was only a few years old when U.S. President John F. Kennedy spoke at Rice University’s stadium in Houston on Sept. 12, 1962, underscoring the technological hurdles of placing a human on the Moon and assuring safe passage of that person back to Earth.
America’s space effort, while still in its infancy, was already paying dividends in new jobs, new companies and sharpening the skills of the nation’s technological workforce, Kennedy noted. Still, the challenge ahead was daunting.
DALLAS, Texas (Heritage Auctions PR) — The vast personal collection of Neil Armstrong, who as the first man to walk on the moon changed the course of human history, will be presented in a series of auctions beginning November 1-2, 2018 by Heritage Auctions. The Armstrong Family CollectionTM will offer never-before-seen artifacts from his momentous lunar landing to private mementos — including pieces of a wing and propeller from the 1903 Wright Brothers flight that Armstrong took with him to the moon, a gold pin from Gemini VIII, Armstrong’s first mission, and historic correspondence about the planning that went into the moon mission. The auctions will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 mission.
“There will be flown items, autographed items and items of historical significance,” son Mark Armstrong said. “There will be items that make you think, items that make you laugh and items that make you scratch your head.” (more…)
As NASA celebrates the 50th anniversary of manned Apollo flights leading to the first moon landing in July 1969, the number of astronauts from the program is slowly dwindling away.
Of the 29 men who flew in the Apollo lunar program, 15 are still alive while 14 others have passed away. When the Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz programs are included, there are 21 Apollo-era astronauts still with us while 17 have died.
Video Caption: The cast and crew of Universal’s feature film First Man reflect on the story of Neil Armstrong and the Apollo 11 moon landing, one of NASA’s most notable figures and one of the agency’s crowning achievements. They also note their visits to NASA and working with the agency’s staff in the production of the film. NASA provided our historical expertise, footage and imagery, plus allowed for filming access at our facilities.
Film footage provided courtesy of Universal Pictures.