Though Apollo 11 gets all the fame and Apollo 13 was made into a thrilling Ron Howard movie, author and historian Jeffrey Kluger says the Apollo 8 mission was a foundational trip for American space exploration. He takes us through the mission and examines what it meant for NASA moving forward.
Jeffrey Kluger, author, Apollo 8: The thrilling story of the first mission to the moon
Many of us have heard the heroic tales of Apollo 11 and Apollo 13, the missions to send men to the moon, but what about the other missions? When Astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders fearlessly took off in December of 1968 and safely orbited the moon, they paved the way for the future space exploration to come. Author Jeffrey Kluger recently wrote Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon about this mission and its impact on history and science.
In August 1968 NASA made a bold decision: In just 16 weeks, the United States would launch humankind’s first flight to the moon. Only the year before, three astronauts had burned to death in their spacecraft, and since then the Apollo program had suffered one setback after another. Meanwhile, the Russians were winning the space race, the Cold War was getting hotter by the month, and President Kennedy’s promise to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade seemed sure to be broken. But when Borman, Lovell, and Anders were summoned to a secret meeting and told of the dangerous mission, they instantly signed on.
The race to prepare an untested rocket for an unprecedented journey paves the way for the hair-raising trip to the moon. Then, on Christmas Day, a nation that has suffered a horrendous year of assassinations and war is heartened by an inspiring message from the trio of astronauts in lunar orbit. And when the mission is over – after the first view of the far side of the moon, the first Earth-rise, and the first reentry through the Earth’s atmosphere following a flight to deep space – the impossible dream of walking on the moon suddenly seems within reach.