Today in Military History: Dec., 21, 1968, Apollo 8 launches

On December 21, 1968, Apollo 8, the first manned mission to another celestial body, is launched at 7:51 a.m. EST. Frank Borman was in command, James Lovell Jr. was Command Module Pilot and William “Bill” Anders was lunar module pilot. The mission lasts 6 days and 3 hours, including 10 moon orbits. The USS Yorktown recovered Apollo 8 and the crew at 10:52 a.m. EST in the Pacific Ocean. The back up crew commander was Neil Armstrong.

Apollo 8 crew is photographed posing on a Kennedy Space Center (KSC) simulator in their space suits on November 22, 1968. From left to right are: James A. Lovell Jr., William A. Anders, and Frank Borman. Courtesy NASA