Apollo 8: First to the Moon

Apollo 11 tends to get most of the limelight, but many forget that Apollo 8 was the first mission to the Moon. While Apollo 8 did not land on the Moon, they were the first to leave Earth and orbit the Moon in December 1968.

It was a daring mission led by the incomparable Frank Borman. Jim Lovell, the future commander of the Apollo 13 mission, and Bill Anders rounded out the crew.

The crew of the historic Apollo 8
Bill Anders, James Lovell and Frank Borman

On Christmas Eve 1968 during a live television transmission heard by an estimated 2 billion people, each crew member read a section from the Book of Genesis (verses 1-10). Borman finished the broadcast by wishing a Merry Christmas to everyone on Earth with, "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth."

(As an aside, it's almost unimaginable that religious content like this would be permitted on a broadcast today. If it was, they would have to include a message from every conceivable religion (and atheists) as to be as "inclusive" as possible. Some would call this "progress" I assume.)

The signed limited print above was issued by the San Diego Air and Space Museum in 2008 -- the 40th anniversary of the mission. As space collectors know, Bill Anders is an exceedingly difficult signer, making an Apollo 8 crew signed item one of the least common and most desirable Apollo crews.