At NASA, there were growing concerns that the Soviet Zond program would prove triumphant over Apollo by at least placing a man around the moon in a Free Return trajectory or worse yet, into orbit around the moon. With that the Soviets could claim another space first in a string of firsts. So, the decision makers at NASA planned a bold step. With the ongoing integration problems with the Lunar Module, they decided to leave the vehicle behind, sending the Command Module alone to the moon. The flight was to take place over the Christmas holiday in 1968.
Once arriving at the moon, Apollo 8 took this spactacular picture which has become iconic;
For the first time in history, the majority of mankind could look upon the whole Earth, from a distance and realize how fragile and unique it was. We only had one and it need to be cared for. There is no other place to go.
On Christmas Eve, the astronauts, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, broadcast to Earth. They flew over the desolate surface and described it to their audience on the Earth. The lonely, stark, yet beautiful land was presented to the television viewers. Then, as they closed their broadcast, the Astronauts began to read. First Bil Anders, then Jim Lovell, and finally, Frank Borman:
- William Anders
- "We are now approaching lunar sunrise and, for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to 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.
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."
For all my friends I would like to repeat what they said and bless all of you, all of you on the Good Earth