Fifty years ago, the crew of Apollo 8 became the first humans to leave Earth and journey to its closest celestial body, the Moon. Launching on the morning of December 21, 1968, they were the first to enter space from atop the powerful and complex Saturn V rocket. Their eyes would be the first to see the Earth as an entire sphere and to orbit the Moon and observe its obscure far side. For many back home, they changed not only the way we understand the Moon, but how we perceive the uniqueness and fragility of Earth.
Said Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell during a televised broadcast from lunar orbit on Christmas Eve half a century ago, “The vast loneliness up here of the Moon is awe-inspiring, and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth. The Earth from here is a grand oasis in the big vastness of space.”