Picture of Apollo 8 spacecraft
Originally planned as another Earth orbiting mission like Apollo 7, Apollo 8's objectives were changed at the last minute, due to pressure of beating the Soviet Union in the race to the Moon.
Powered by the Saturn V rocket, later used by Apollo 11, Apollo 8 was launched on Dec. 21, 1968 as the first manned lunar mission. Astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, Jr., and William Anders became the first humans to travel to the Moon and see its farside, successfully accomplishing all their mission objectives during their six days in space.
On Christmas Eve, Apollo 8 completed 10 orbits around the Moon returning live television pictures back to our planet. Over half a billion people watched as Earth rose on the Moon's horizon, realizing the limitless possibilities of space exploration.
Apollo 8 provided astronauts with more experience in space travel, and brought us one step closer to the Apollo program's goal of safely landing humans on the Moon.
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