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.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games
section of our online store
includes a climate change card game
and the Traveling Nitrogen game
You might also be interested in:
Driven by a recent surge in space research, the Apollo program hoped to add to the accomplishments of the Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor missions of the late 1960's. Apollo 11 was the first mission to succeed...more
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was one of the most important exploration tools of the past two decades, and will continue to serve as a great resource well into the new millennium. The HST is credited...more
Apollo 12 survived a lightning strike during its launch on Nov. 14, 1969, and arrived at the Moon three days later. Astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean descended to the surface, while Richard Gordon...more
Apollo 15 marked the start of a new series of missions from the Apollo space program, each capable of exploring more lunar terrain than ever before. Launched on July 26, 1971, Apollo 15 reached the Moon...more
NASA chose Deep Impact to be part of a special series called the Discovery Program on July 7, 1999. In May 2001, Deep Impact was given the "go" from NASA to start with mission development. Deep Impact...more
The Galileo spacecraft was launched on October 19, 1989. Galileo had two parts: an orbiter and a descent probe that parachuted into Jupiter's atmosphere. Galileo's primary mission was to explore the Jovian...more
During 1966 through 1967, five identical Lunar Orbiter spacecrafts were launched, with the purpose of mapping the Moon's surface and finding smooth, level terrain, in preparation for the Apollo and Surveyor...more