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.

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