William Anders / NASA via AP
Fifty years since Friday, December 21, 1968, Apollo 8 lifted and marked the first time people left a low ground path and flew to the moon.
This was the second manned space flow of the Apollo program and it was a nervous and remarkable flight that caught the attention of the world. The mission capped a difficult and conflicting year in the United States, which offers a rare moment when people could feel good about their planet.
Every journey to space is risky. But a mission to the moon, almost a quarter mile from Earth, was something else. There were many things that could go wrong and many unknowns about this first trip. But on Christmas Eve 1968, the canister made it to the moon track.
The United States and the Soviet Union had spent the 1960s locked in the space race and came to the moon first was an exciting achievement for most Americans.
But 1968 was a particularly turbulent year in the United States. The Vietnam War raged. Both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. killed. Protests took place on the Democratic National Convention.
During the six-day mission, these things seemed to be gone as people were imprisoned by what they saw and heard.
On Christmas Eve, on what was then the most viewed television broadcast, crew members Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders read a passage from the Genesis book:
"For all people back on earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has one message we would like to send to you. "In the beginning, God created heaven and earth. And the earth was without form and empty, and the darkness was on the face of the depth. ""
There was also an unexpected moment in the 20 hours that the circled moon . When they focused on the moon's surface below, some other crew took attention.
"Oh my God, check out that picture over there! It's the earth that comes up. Wow, it's cute!" exclaimed Anders.
Anders rushed to capture a picture of the earth, which rises above the barren lunar landscape. The "Earthrise" image is still one of the most famous ones ever taken in space, and Anders says it has forever changed how people think about where we live.
"The only color we could see and contrast with here really unfriendly, strong moon's horizon, made me think," You know we really live on a beautiful little planet, "he says.
It wasn't just The crew of Apollo 8 reflected during the flight. Author Robert Kurson wrote about the mission in a new book, Rocket Men . He says something unusual happened afterwards: "At the end of 1968, when Apollo 8 sprinkled, you saw hippies hugging old men in the streets. Something that was unthinkable just six days before that. "
Kurson says that with Apollo 8, the political difficulties in 1968 were washed away for a while. In an interview with NPR earlier this year, Borman, the missionary, noticed the same thing." Telegrams I remember of all the thousands we got after Apollo 8 said, "Thank you Apollo 8 you saved in 1968," he said.
Borman says there are many parallels between 1968 and 2018, especially how divided the country is – anger, frustration and mistrust. He wants something on the horizon today as Apollo 8 to bring people together.