Reflecting on Earthrise 50 Years Later

Earth rise from Apollo 8. (Credit: NASA)

Frank De Winne in the Soyuz-TMA spacecraft (Credit: ESA — STAR CITY)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Monday 24 December marks 50 years since Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders snapped an iconic image of Earth rising above the lunar surface.

The image, known as Earthrise, has been credited with sparking an environmental movement. Now, head of ESA’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne Germany Frank De Winne shares his perspective on our planet seen from space.

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Apollo 8 Crew Captured Iconic Earthrise Image

This computer-generated visualization depicts the Apollo 8 spacecraft in orbit around the Moon, with Earth rising over the horizon. (Credits: NASA Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio/Ernie Wright)

By Bob Granath
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

The year 1968 was one of the most turbulent in history. War was raging in Vietnam, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert Kennedy were assassinated and the Cold War included the race to the Moon.

But at Christmastime a half-century ago, millions around the world paused to follow the flight of Apollo 8. For the first time, humans left Earth for a distant destination.

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A Bold Step: Apollo 8 Sends First Human Flight Beyond Earth

Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders looked back after leaving Earth orbit for the Moon. This view extends the northern hemisphere to the southern tip of South America. Nearly all of South America is covered by clouds. (Credits: NASA)

By Bob Granath
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

“Apollo 8. You are Go for TLI.”

With these cryptic words spoken on Dec. 21, 1968, NASA’s Mission Control gave the crew of Apollo 8 approval for TLI — trans-lunar injection — permission to become the first humans to leave Earth orbit. Their destination, 234,000 miles away, was the Moon.

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