Friday, September 11, 2009

On that Christmas eve of 1968

Apollo 8 first broadcast the full view of earth from the moon.

December 24, 1968 – Apollo Program: U.S. spacecraft Apollo 8 enters orbit around the Moon. Astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William A. Anders become the first humans to see the far side of the Moon and planet Earth as a whole. The crew also reads from Genesis.

After launching on December 21, 1968, the crew took three days to travel to the Moon. They orbited ten times over the course of 20 hours, during which the crew made a Christmas Eve television broadcast in which they read the first 10 verses from the Book of Genesis. The crew timed this reading to coincide with a full view of planet Earth hanging in the empty blackness of space while clearly showing the rich diversity of the living planet as indicated in Earth's colors, seas, landforms, and weather patterns, rising over the dull gray horizon of the lifeless Moon. At the time, the broadcast was the most watched TV program ever. Apollo 8's successful mission paved the way for Apollo 11 to fulfill U.S. President John F. Kennedy's goal of landing a man on the Moon before the end of the decade.

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