On December 24, 1968 the Apollo 8 astronauts, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders shared this iconic “Earthrise” photo during the first manned mission to the moon. The first astronauts to orbit the moon and spend Christmas in space.
Knowing that millions of people would listen to their transmission on Christmas Eve, and as NASA’s only guidance was to do something appropriate, the astronauts decided on the book of Genesis. Lovell explained, “The first ten verses of Genesis is the foundation of many of the world’s religions, not just the Christian religion,” added Lovell. “There are more people in other religions than the Christian religion around the world, and so this would be appropriate to that and so that’s how it came to pass.”
So while orbiting above the lunar surface, the astronauts shared images of the Earth and moon and took turns reading from the book of Genesis, closing with a wish for everyone “on the good Earth.”
Seeing Earth rise beyond the barren lunar surface gave us a new perspective of our home planet and became the icon of the environmental movement. Anders has said that despite all the training and preparation for an exploration of the moon, the astronauts ended up discovering Earth.
The crew launched into orbit on December 21, and after circling the moon 10 times on Christmas Eve, prepared to return home. On Christmas morning, mission control anxiously waited to hear that Apollo 8’s engine burn had successfully propelled it outside the moon’s gravitational pull. Confirmation arrived when Lovell radioed, “Roger, please be informed there is a Santa Claus.”
In 2013 NASA recreated the historic moment when the crew first saw and photographed the Earth rising from behind the Moon. The visualization captures the view from both inside and outside the spacecraft and is synced with the onboard audio of the astronauts. Watching and listening in, you can’t help but feel their wonder and excitement.
Wherever you are on Earth, our team at simpleQuE wishes all a Merry Christmas, cherished holiday celebrations and a New Year filled with peace and the spirit of innovation and exploration!