EARTHRISE: The First Lunar Voyage
This film tells the interesting story of how it came to be that the United States Government joined the space race and challenged NASA to embark on a mission to explore the moon. In the words of then president John F. Kennedy the nation was choosing to take this and many other steps ‘not because they are easy, but because they are hard.’
In 1962, a year before his assassination, when he challenged NASA to compete with its counterparts, the Soviets had already been leading the way in space exploration by leaps and bounds. In order to move ahead of the Soviets and land a man on the moon, NASA launched the Apollo Program. However, a set of unfortunate setbacks caused the program to slip way behind schedule.
In 1961 Soviets launched the first manned flight. Since then until 1968, 34 Soviets and Americans had orbited the Earth but none had ever headed straight out. The farthest any of them had gone was 850 miles away from the surface of the Earth.
The countdown to one of the greatest moments in exploration began on December 21, 1968. Apollo8 was the first manned lunar flight. It was scheduled to fly 230,000 miles into space, orbit the moon ten times, and then return home. It took a lot of guts, because it was the first time humans were going to explore space. Prompted by the fact that the Soviet Union was about to launch their own expedition, NASA did everything possible to beat them to the punch, even though there was only a 50% chance of a safe return.
The entire nation watched in awe as Apollo 8 set out on man’s first journey to the moon.
The New York Times called these three brave men ‘The Columbuses of Space’ because they were going where no other human had ever been. Air Force Colonel Frank F. Borman commanded the Apollo 8 crew that included Bill Anders and James Lovell Jr.
As they embarked on their mission, they left behind a deeply troubled planet, though. At the time assassinations, wars, racial tension and riots, and general chaos dominated the news. The launching of this mission was like a breath of fresh air for many as it turned the attention away from tragedy to adventure.
It was at 4 am on December 24, 1968, when for the first time human eyes looked down on the far side of the moon. Bill Anders describes the moon as having a ‘dramatic high-contrast’ surface. James Lovell says they forgot all about the flight plan and pressed their noses against the glass like little kids, looking at the amazing sight in front of them. But then another sight caught their attention and they became captivated by the view of their own home planet. Frank Borman defines that moment as the most ‘awe-inspiring’. Find out more now.