In 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave a historic speech before a joint session of Congress, presenting NASA and the nation with a historic challenge: To put a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth before the end of the 1960s. Projects Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo were designed to execute Kennedy's goal.
On December 21, 1968, Apollo 8 blasted into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida with Commander Frank Borman, command module pilot James Lovell, and lunar module pilot William Anders, as part of the first manned mission to the moon.
Apollo 8 circled the moon 10 times before leaving lunar orbit and returning to Earth, splashing down safely on Dec. 27 in the Pacific Ocean.
Appearing Wednesday in many local newspapers: An exclusive Apollo 50th anniversary special section.
Astronaut Frank Borman in commander’s seat at left, Mike Collins at the controls, the middle, and Bill Anders at right during mission of Apollo 8 in shuttle simulator in an undated photo. (AP Photo)
Apollo 8 Kennedy
In this May 25, 1961 file photo, President John F. Kennedy speaks in the House of Representatives before a joint session of Congress in Washington. In the background are Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, left, and House Speaker Sam Rayburn. During that speech, Kennedy issued the challenge for NASA to send a man to the moon. That challenge was met on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11's lunar module landed on the moon. (AP Photo, File)
Apollo 8 Slayton, Kennedy
Astronaut Donald K. Slayton escorts President John F. Kennedy into a full scale model of the project Apollo moon shot vehicle during his visit to the NASA center in Houston, Texas on Sept. 12, 1962. The President saw past and future space equipment during his visit to the center. (AP Photo)
Mission control during Apollo 8 blastoff, Dec. 21, 1968. (AP Photo)
Apollo 8 Blastoff
Apollo 8 blastoff, Cape Kennedy, Fla., Dec. 21, 1968. (AP Photo)
Apollo 8 Astronauts
Apollo 8 Astronauts, left-to-right, James Lovell, command module pilot; William Anders, lunar module pilot; and Frank Borman, commander, pause in front of mission simulator prior to training in exercise for their scheduled six-day lunar orbital mission in Kennedy Space Center, Florida on Dec. 18, 1968. The trio will be launched by a 363-foot-high Apollo/Saturn V space vehicle from the Kennedy Spaced Center's Launch Complex 39A. (AP Photo)
The luncheon for Apollo astronauts shown on the plate, winds up trimmed down to that shown in the plastic packages to the left of the picture, Dec. 17, 1968. (AP Photo)
Young and old alike flocked to the beaches overlooking Cape Kennedy, Fla., Dec. 21, 1968 for the liftoff of the Saturn 5 Apollo 8 launch vehicle. The Apollo 8 carried astronauts Frank Borman, William A. Anders and James A. Lovell, Jr., to a planned lunar orbital flight. (AP Photo)
Apollo 8 on launch pad, Dec. 21, 1968. (AP Photo)
Huge brilliant searchlights illuminate the 363-foot-tall Saturn 5 booster rocket in Cape Kennedy, Florida, Dec. 19, 1968 which will propel the Apollo 8 spacecraft and its crew of three astronauts into space. A spectator stands before one of the canals through the space center. The crew reported “we’re ready as we can be” for the blast off. (AP Photo)
This photograph taken from Apollo 8 spacecraft, Dec. 21, 1968 shows the Saturn V third (S-IVB) stage from which the spacecraft had just separated following translunar injection. Attached to the S-IVB is the Lunar Module Test Article which simulated the mass of a Lunar Module on the Apollo 8 lunar orbit mission. The 29-foot panels of the Spacecraft LM Adapter which enclosed the LTA during launch have already been jettisoned and are out of view. Sunlight reflected from small particles shows the “firefly”. (AP Photo)
This photograph was taken from the Apollo 8 spacecraft, Dec. 29, 1968 with a long-focal length lens, looking south at the large crater Goclenius. The three clustered craters are Magelhaens, Magelhaens A, and Colombo A. The crater Goclenius is degrees east longitude, and is approximately 40 statute miles in diameter. (AP Photo)
Lt. Col. William A. Anders, Apollo 8 lunar module pilot looks out of the window as the camera records the scene during the spaceflight, Dec., 1968. (AP Photo)
View of moon taken from Apollo 8 spacecraft in December 1968. (AP Photo)
Astronaut Frank Borman waves goodbye at the end of television transmission from the Apollo 8 spacecraft as it raced toward the moon, Dec. 22, 1968. (AP Photo)
View of moon taken from Apollo 8 spacecraft in December 1968. (AP Photo)
Apollo 8 Anders
Astronaut Major William A. Anders is shown in spacesuit with technicians prior to his six-day lunar orbital mission aboard a Saturn V Space vehicle with Frank Borman and James Lovell from the Kennedy Space Center’s launch complex 39A in Florida, Dec. 21, 1968. (AP Photo)
Apollo 8 crew
Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman is shown waving to well wishers during the predawn departure to the launch pad with command module pilot James Lovell, center, and lunar module pilot William Anders, rear, December 21, 1968. The trio was launched on a six day orbital mission, which included the first lunar orbit and piloted lunar return reentry. (AP photo)
View of Earth taken from Apollo 8 spacecraft in December 1968. (AP Photo)
Left to right: Frank Borman, commander of 3-man Apollo 8 crew, William A. Anders and James A. Lovell, Jr., Dec. 21, 1968. They will attempt an orbital flight around the moon during the Christmas holidays. (AP Photo)
Apollo 8 recovery
Recovery of Project Apollo 8, December 27, 1968. (AP Photo)
A crane swings the Apollo 8 spacecraft up from the surface of the Pacific Ocean to the deck of carrier USS Yorktown, Friday, Dec. 27, 1968 to complete the recovery of the spacecraft and its three-man crew following their flight to the moon and back. (AP Photo)
The Apollo 8 spacecraft which took three astronauts to the moon and back on a journey of more than a half million miles is hoisted aboard the USS Yorktown, Friday, Dec. 27, 1968. Recovery of the spacecraft was made in the Pacific 1000 miles south of Hawaii. (AP Photo)
Col. Frank Borman, Apollo 8 astronaut with William Anders, center, and James A. Lovell, Jr., right, on the flight deck of the carrier U.S.S. Yorktown, recovery ship Dec. 27, 1968. (AP Photo)
Apollo 8 exercise
Capt. James A. Lovell Jr., commander of the Apollo 8 spaceflight, leaps from a mock-up of the command module into a rubber raft during egress training exercise in the Gulf of Mexico on Oct. 25, 1968 in Houston. The Apollo 8 crew, scheduled for orbital flight in December, went through the exercise while the crew of Apollo 7 was undergoing debriefing sessions following their successful orbital flight which ended early this week. (AP Photo/Ed Kolenovsky)
Apollo 8 astronauts
The Apollo 8 crew, from left: commander Frank Borman, command module pilot James A. Lovell, Jr., and lunar module pilot William A. Anders. The mission during which the Apollo 8 crew became the first humans to see the far side of the Moon, paved the way for later missions including Apollo 11 to land the first man on the Moon in 1969. (AP Photo/Stf, File)
Apollo 8 "Earthrise"
The Earth shines over the horizon of the moon in this Dec. 24, 1968 photo. Apollo 8 Astronaut Bill Anders snapped the iconic photograph known as “Earthrise” during the first manned mission to the moon. (AP Photo)
Check out the Apollo 50th anniversary in your newspaper
Coming this week in your newspaper: An exclusive 24-page retrospective commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo program.