All Eyes Were On The Television That Night

Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind. ~Mary Ellen Chase

Apollo Eight And I Was There!

Apollo Eight I was lucky enough to work on the Apollo Program and knew these folks (at least to talk to and work with while they were in Downey).  I worked on their space machine and had been inside and sitting of their seats when running tests the old North American Aviation/Rockwell buildings. Following its journey from Earth to the Moon and back was exciting beyond belief. I will always remember that I knew the guys speaking from the moon on Christmas Eve 1968.

The Details

Launched: 21 December 1968 UT 12:51:00 (7:51:00 AM EST)
Lunar Orbit: 24 December 1968
Returned to Earth: 27 December 1968 UT 15:51:42 (10:51:42 AM EST)

The Cast

Frank Borman, commander
James A. Lovell, command module pilot
William A. Anders, lunar module pilot 

From The Moon We Heard

Headlines Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the Moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts; Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders did a live television broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and Moon seen from Apollo 8. Lovell said, "The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth." They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis.

William Anders:

"For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you".

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness."

Jim Lovell:

"And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day."

Frank Borman:

"And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good."

Borman then added, "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."

From Earth!

After the reading from Genesis, this take on a familiar Christmas story was read back.

Twas the night before Christmas and way out in space,
the Apollo 8 crew had just won the moon race.
The headsets were hung by the consoles with care,
in hopes that Chris Kraft soon would be there.

Frank Borman was nestled all snug in his bed,
while visions of REFSMMAT's danced in his head;
and Jim Lovell, in his couch, and Anders, in the bay,
were racking their brains over a computer display.

When out of the DSKY, there arose such a clatter,
Frank sprang from his bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the sextant he flew like a flash,
to make sure they weren't going to crash.

The light on the breast of the moon's jagged crust
gave a luster of green cheeses to the gray lunar dust.
When what to his wondering eyes should appear,
but a Burma Shave sign saying 'Kilroy was here.'


But Frank was no fool. He knew pretty quick
that they had been first; this must be a trick.
More rapid than rockets, his curses they came.
He turned to his crewmen and called them by name.

Now Lovell, now Anders, now don't think I'd fall
for an old joke you've written up the wall.
They spoke not a word, but grinning like elves,
and laughed at their joke in spite of themselves.

Frank sprang to his couch, to the ship gave a thrust,
and away they all flew past the gray lunar dust.
But we heard them explain ere they flew around the moon:
'Merry Christmas to earth; we will be back there real soon.'



This was a "creepy" picture seeing it from the Earth and knowing for the first time that we were a blue ball in the cosmos!

Madelyn Murry The Turd!

Turds existed even in 1969: The militant atheist Madelyn Murray O'Hair later caused controversy by bringing a lawsuit against NASA over the reading from Genesis; she wished the courts to ban US astronauts—who were all Government employees—from public prayer in space. This was eventually rejected by the courts, but it caused NASA to be skittish about the issue of religion throughout the rest of the Apollo program.

Apollo Eight