On December 24th, 1968, during the Apollo 8 mission, humans saw the Earth rise above the horizon of the moon for the very first time in person. The three astronauts of Apollo 8, Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders became the first humans to travel beyond low Earth orbit, see the far side of the moon, and were the first people to ever view the earth as a whole planet.
After 55 hours and 40 minutes into their flight to the moon, the crew of Apollo 8 entered the gravitational sphere of influence of another celestial body, becoming the first humans to do so. Sixty-four hours into the flight, the crew began to prepare for Lunar Orbit Insert-1, or LOI-1. Due to the orbital mechanics that had to be performed on the dark side of the moon, this maneuver had to be performed perfectly to avoid any error in trajectory, which could have seen Apollo 8 being flung into space. Just before the 69th hour of their journey, the Apollo 8 crew entered into the dark zone behind the moon, going out of radio contact with earth. They were now more than 238,000 miles away from their home and completely cut off from earth.
During the first three orbits of the moon, the crew described the terrain they were passing over and completed critical tasks, such as reconnaissance of future landing sites on the moon. As Apollo 8 came out from the dark side of the moon for its fourth (of 10) pass across the front, the crew witnessed Earthrise for the first time in human history. The image below, dubbed Earthrise by NASA, is the famous picture they took.
On the 9th orbit across the moon the crew began their second television transmission. Each crew member gave their impression of the lunar surface, then talked about what it was like to orbit the moon. The crew then each read a section of the Biblical creation story from the Book of Genesis, very fitting for their broadcast to the world as the first humans to ever leave Earth’s orbit. That reading can be played below.
Boreman ended the transmission with, “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God Bless all of you – all of you on the good earth.”
We are all explorers, each of us having the ability to forge our own paths into the unknown. It’s up to you to decide what you create, whether you leave the orbit filled by so many, or venture off on your own into the darkness, creating something new and sharing it with the world.
You can let your Earthrise be something different, unique, and remarkable. Or you can be boring and never leave the orbit and the path that everyone else is on. Your choice.