back at the Earth on Christmas Eve had a great effect, I think,
on all three of us. I can only speak for myself, but it had
for me. Because of the wonderment of it and the fact that
the Earth looked so lonely in the universe. It’s the
only thing with color. All of our emotions were focused back
there with our families as well. So that was the most emotional
part of the flight for me.
A. Lovell, Jr.
the time, we didnít know what the effect of the flight would
be. We didnít know whether the flight was going to be successful
or not. But with riots and assassinations and the war going
on [that year], I was part of a thing that finally gave an
uplift to the American people about doing something positive.
Thatís why I say Apollo 8 was really the high point of my
here was this orb looking like a Christmas tree ornament,
very fragile, not an infinite expanse of granite and seemingly
of a physical insignificance, and yet it was our home.
C. Kraft, Jr.
was an opportunity for those of us that were allowed to do
it that doesn't present itself very often in any human being's
life. We were extremely fortunate that all the conjunction
of the stars and the politics and the money and the technology
all came together in the 60s, in '68. That was a very extremely
unique period in man's history from all those points of view.
were ready, and as soon as we got the launch vehicle and the
spacecraft that could go there, it was a very courageous and
bold decision that became Apollo 8, but the teams of people
were ready for it. They were ready for it, and it was a result
of what we learned and what we matured through the Gemini
experience. I mean, it was a real training ground for us.
they announced Apollo 8, I just couldn't believe it, but we
were all over George Low to go try it, because we were young
enough to try anything.
A lot of nervousness there. Our system had to work. If
it didn't, we might never see the astronauts again. It could
be that they would make a correction which would send them
crashing into the Moon, or the whole thing might blow up when
they turn the engine on, and you'd never know it.
remember probably as much or more about Apollo 8 as any other
mission, just because it left such a lasting impression on
me. We had so many firsts, starting with translunar injection,
and it hits you, “My God, we're leaving Earth.”
think that was probably the most magical Christmas Eve I've
ever experienced in my life, to actually have participated
in a mission, provided the controllers, worked in the initial
design and the concept of this really gutsy move, and now
to really see that we were the first to the Moon with men.
P. Loftus, Jr.
was one of those decisions that you could never get a committee
to make. George Low, in effect, said, "Why don't we do
that," and he was saying it in such a way that said,
"We're going to do that unless you can prove to me there's
some reason we shouldn't."
K. Mattingly II
Listening to these meetings, it’s like no one had
ever thought about going to the Moon. We’ve been in
this program for how many years, and yet people are asking
questions that are almost like, “Does anyone know where
the Moon is and how to find it?” And here we’re
supposed to be going.
had looked through all the systems, and we had looked through
all the systems of the service module, which included the
oxygen tanks that blew up on Apollo 13. If that had happened
on Apollo 8, we would have lost those guys, because we had
no lunar module to bring them home.
had no problems at all with Apollo 8 all the way out. It’s
just that eerie feeling when the guy goes behind the Moon
that first time. That’s the first time that humans had
ever been out of sight of Earth.
wonder how the three astronauts really—they must have
gone into that with a certain amount of destiny in their thinking,
because the odds were greatly unfavorable. I mean, hell, how
in the world could we expect to do that? But we did.
lot of people have asked me which was the high point in the
Apollo Program, thinking that it’s Apollo 11. Well,
11 was really something, but I think as the high point, Apollo
8 had to take the vote, because as an engineer, it was the
first time we’d been out there, and we only had the
one engine to come back with.
Eve Message, December 24,1968
broadcast - 41MB, MOV)
8: Earth's Rise to a New Era
Narrated by Clay Morgan, Apollo 8: Earth's Rise to a New
Era was recorded in December 1998 in celebration of the
of Apollo 8.
Apollo 8: Earth's Rise
to a New Era (5MB, MP3)
Johnson Space Center: 1958 - 1978
The JSC History Office and the University of Houston Center
for Public History joined together to publish the Fall 2008
issue of Houston History magazine, dedicated to NASA JSC history
between the years 1958 and 1978 and featuring Remembering
Apollo 8, by Chris Kraft.
Space Center: 1958 - 1978 (7MB, PDF)