During the tumultuous year that was 1968, all was calm aboard Apollo 8 as man orbited the moon for the first time. The astronauts had a special message to Earth. An excerpt from The Post of Dec. 25, 1968:
By Thomas O'Toole
Washington Post Staff Writer
HOUSTON, Dec. 24 --
Jules Verne may never really have believed it, but today three American astronauts were flying around the moon.
Climaxing a fantastic 231,000-mile journey through empty space, astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders were circling the moon in their Apollo 8 spacecraft from 70 miles up, once every two hours.
The first men to reach another celestial body in mankind's two million years, the three astronauts had made seven full revolutions of the moon by 8 o'clock (EST) tonight. They were due to make a total of ten orbits, then head for earth at 1:06 the morning of Christmas Day. ...
The whole world got a chance to see what it was like at 7:30 Tuesday morning, when the crew beamed live television pictures of the moon back for the first time. ...
The picture sent to earth was fuzzy, which is understandable since it was being beamed by a tiny, 4.5-pound camera over a distance of more than 230,000 miles.
"The color of the moon looks like a very whitish gray," Borman said. "Some of these craters you see look like pickaxes striking concrete, creating a lot of fine haze dust." ...
The telecast lasted only four minutes, but was picked up all over the world. ...
At one point in the second evening telecast, Borman broke in, saying: "For all the people on earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message."
Anders began it. "In the beginning God created the heavens 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."
Anders and Lovell then continued and Borman ended the reading of the first ten passages from the book of Genesis.
"And God called the dry land earth; and the gathering together of the waters called the seas; and God saw that it was good."
With that, Borman closed the telecast. "From the crew of Apollo 8," he said, "we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you -- all of you on the good earth."