Many say Apollo 8 has redeemed 1968. The first cosmic space mission to the moon's tour took place on Christmas Eve and gave hope to the tired millions shaken by the chaotic excitement of events in 1968.
The year that ended with the merger of Apollo 8 began with the aggressive attacks of the offensive Tet in Vietnam in late January, followed by the murders of Martin Luther King in April and Robert Kennedy in June. The riots have swallowed cities with fire and rage and violent protests later this summer rocked the Democratic Convention in Chicago, which led to bitter, separating presidential elections in November.
The rising cascade of rage made her seem to be falling apart. But then a bright hope crown 1968: for the first time in history, people were flying around the moon.
NASA's Big Year
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) named Apollo 8 as a pioneer mission to send people to the moon, but they planned it with great concern. Less than two years earlier, NASA has lost three astronauts during the Apollo 1 fire. Neither the audience nor the Congress will accept three more dead astronauts.
Is their extensive work correcting all the problems? The new mission was far from certain: Apollo 8 would be only the second shot of people after the fire of Apollo 1; people had not flown, using the huge Saturn V rocket needed to reach the moon; the farthest people have left the Earth's orbit at 850 miles during the Gemini missions, compared to the 240,000 miles needed to reach the moon's orbit; during orbit the spacecraft will periodically pass the moon and lose contact with the Earth; and if the engine fails to shoot while trying to get back to Earth, the crew will be conquered forever in space.
Susan Borman, the wife of Apollo 8's commander, Frank Borman, understood that Apollo 8 would be a pioneering mission to help achieve the dream of landing on the moon. However, she was afraid that her husband could pay the final price during this mission. Susan went to Chris Kraft, the director of operations at the Johnson Space Center, and asked if Frank was coming home this time. Kraft said clearly: Frank Borman had a 50/50 chance of getting home safely.
For Frank Borman, this mission was his last, no matter what. He believes it is extremely difficult for his family to have a husband and father in a rocket. He wanted nothing but to live quietly with the most expensive things in his life – his wife, his parents and his children.
But Borman was also an Air Force officer who wanted to beat the councilors in the "space race." In September of the same year the council launched the Zond 5 mission, which consisted of a small spacecraft carrying two turtles, fodder, wine flies and several other living creatures. Zond 5 came 1250 miles from the lunar surface and collapsed back to the Indian Ocean with the animals alive.
This information faces NASA with the likelihood that Russians will have a plan to send people to the moon before NASA. This made Borman meet the goals of Apollo 8 and, in his words, "this is the only thing that motivates me – to defeat the Russians."
But there was one last catch. A lunar mission in December will have to fly over the last ten days of the month – essentially Christmas – to adapt to the moon's orbit. Thus, to complete the mission, NASA will need help from the US Navy.
The flight plan provides for Apollo 8 crew to land in the Pacific Ocean approximately two days after Christmas, but US sailors have already been ordered to retire for the holidays. In other words, NASA will need ships to restore its astronauts, but these ships will be hooked up to Pearl Harbor. This meant that someone would have to convince the navy to break up with the shore of thousands of sailors.
That happy face was Kraft. NASA's flight director flew to Hawaii to meet John McCain, Jr., commander of the Pacific Command and father of the future senator from Arizona, who had just entered his second year as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Kraft was hoping he could successfully send the astronauts to the moon, and vice versa would raise the mood of the admiral. He was deeply absorbed in the directing of the naval forces that fought the Vietnam War.
Kraft lodged his request in a conference room filled with captains and admirals in the navy, and Admiral McCain smoked a cigar and sat in the middle of the front row. After a profound presentation, Kraft came to the question: NASA needs ships at sea during Apollo 8, and without the help of the fleet, the Communists can win the space race.
Initially silent, but then, as Craft remembered, McCain stood up, threw the cigar at a table and said, "This is the best British inspector I've ever heard to give this young man whatever he wants." NASA was going to the moon.
Apollo 8 started on December 21, 1968, without an accident, becoming the first spacecraft to leave Earth's orbit and fly to the moon. Within two minutes of the launch of Apollo 8, the crew obscures the record of the farthest distance people have ever dared from the Earth. Now is the long, three-day flight to the moon. Everything was going on.
As they roamed on the moon, the Apollo 8 crew performed their missionary missions to take pictures of moon craters and locations of future landings but something more stunned by the three men: Earth. The most expensive things in their lives were returned to that jewel-like blue planet that opposed even more beautifully the beaten sand, which was the moon.
It was at this moment when the Earth was rising above the lunar horizon, where all three astronauts were inviting cameras to shoot at home. Like Bill Anders, the crew member who has taken the famous space picture now remembers: "We have come all the way to explore the Moon, and most importantly, we have discovered the Earth."
The best part of the mission
More shattering records, the crew prepares for what became the most important mission: a live TV show on Christmas Eve as it toured the moon. NASA reports that around 1 billion people in 64 countries watched live broadcasting, and people in 30 more countries watched the broadcast the same day.
The only instruction they received from NASA was "to do something right." Apollo 8's team had a hard time figuring out what to do about this historical show, rejecting ideas such as reading "The Night Before Christmas" or "Jingle Bells." the common crew of the three crew crew knew a newspaper reporter, so they asked him for help.
Obviously, this reporter spent one night trying to figure out what to write, and his wife went down the stairs and asked, "What are you doing?" He told her he was writing about the crew of Apollo 8 and he had nothing. His wife replied: "Do you know, it's simple – why not read from the Old Testament, the first 10 verses of Genesis? I mean, it's emotional time, something like holy time, but Genesis, the first 10 verses, is the structure of most religions in the world – especially Christianity, but also Judaism and Islam. "That's what they did.
On Christmas Eve, hundreds of millions of people around the world gathered around their televisions to see the bright gray surface of the Moon under Apollo 8, and the astronauts were dressed as they read the familiar words of the created bill: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. . "
On Earth, as scenes from the Moon and the words of Genesis rushed, many in the mission control felt a huge emotional response. Row Leu, a flight controller at the time, remembered that there were tears in his eyes. Chester Vaughn, a NASA engineer who had given a decade of his life to build spacecraft for this purpose, recalled that he had convulsions and thought it was the best Christmas ever. Another observer, a Midwestern teenager, said he felt a deep sense of enormous and deep enthusiasm when he was watching the show by linking us with eternal truths greater than ourselves.
But uncertainty, even the danger, remained. NASA will lose a radio signal with the crew across the moon, just before the state-of-the-art engine needed for a fire. It was the first time in history that would ever happen and no one knew what to expect. It was out of the hands of missionary control so that they could only hope and pray.
For agonizing minutes there was nothing but complete silence in mission control. Then the voice of astronaut James Lovell (later commanding the unfortunate mission "Apollo 13") emits: "Houston, Apollo 8". After the mission controls, Lonel re-broadcasts: "Please be Informed That There Is Santa" The Control Mission broke out in the holiday.
Just two days later, the astronauts dropped into the Pacific Ocean by USS Yorktown. The bright world celebrates. With everything that happened in 1968, the effect of Apollo 8 is best summarized by the famous telegram of an anonymous stranger received by astronaut Borman after the mission, which simply said, "Thank you Apollo 8. You saved 1968 . "
Not everyone saw the glory of the moment. Madeline Murray O'Hair, an activist who promotes atheism, filed a lawsuit against NASA, saying that reading Genesis in a state capsule violated the Establishment Clause, the separation of the church and the "cosmos." future astronaut religious statements. The courts quickly dismissed the case, which, unfortunately, missed the greater execution of the Apollo 8 mission, the television orbit around the Moon, while reading that Genesis leads us to us to wonder about the great truths that unite us.
Apollo 8 crew members were selected as "Time Men of the Year" for 1968, recognizing them as the most influential events this year. All three astronauts were deployed at the International Aerospace Hall of Fame. What became even more famous was the incredible picture of the Earth made by the astronauts. The US Post Office issued a postage stamping the Apollo 8 fields around the moon. The seal of the famous Earthview over the Moon, made on Christmas Eve, included the words "In the beginning of God …"
So, on this 50th anniversary of Apollo 8, Bronson's closing words, emanating from Christmas Eve, unite and inspire us today: "Good night, good luck, joyful Christmas and God to bless you – all good to you land. "
A photo of the Earth's relief over the moon horizon was taken by Apollo 8 crew as they roamed on the moon on December 24, 1968, showing Earth for the first time, as seen from the deep space.
William Anders / NASA