The Trip of Apollo 8, 50 years ago changed the world

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50 years ago, three NASA astronauts embarked on a journey that would take them "Round the moon and back".

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Nasa was approached for a response to Anders' comments, but hasn't responded.

"Those images speak of the beginnings of two extraordinary scientific ventures that are very relevant today". Now 85 years old, Anders remains a supporter of NASA's unmanned space programs, but just doesn't see why sending humans almost 34 million miles into space is necessary or important. He's pushing for a return to the moon, but with real sustainability this next go-around. Last month, the InSight lander, which will sample the planet's interior, successfully touched down at Elysium Planitia. It was originally meant to be an initial crewed test of NASA's Saturn V moon rocket and Apollo command module in Earth orbit, following Apollo 7's test flight with the less powerful Saturn 1B launch vehicle.

The crew splashed down into the Pacific Ocean at 15:51 UTC on 27 December, ending the first crewed mission to the Moon. They were picked up by the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown.

KELLY: That accident was Apollo 13, two years after Apollo 8, 1970, a near disaster of a mission after an oxygen tank exploded en route to the moon. "The urgency created by the Soviet Union's efforts to reach the moon forced NASA to compress the time frame and take a number of calculated gambles".

Borman, Lovell and Anders changed from their spacesuits into blue jumpsuits.

"I took them to my area of the photo lab where we had a special processor that I had built for Apollo space film", Underwood told the Independent in 2009.

On any day (when there is not a shutdown of the United States government), we can watch live video of our planet, directly from the International Space Station. However, Anders alleged that the present-day NASA has turned into a "jobs programme". For the first time, the rest of humanity experienced a hint of that astronautical overview effect.

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"Yes, I'm looking for one", Lovell said. "I know my own impression is that it's a vast, lonely forbidding type existence, great expanse of nothing, that looks rather like clouds and clouds of pumice stone, and it certainly would not appear to be a very inviting place to live or work".

William Anders, left, James A. Lovell Jr., and Frank Borman were the first astronauts to orbit the moon on December 24, 1968. However, over the years, I thought that accident was probably the best thing that could have happened to NASA. "I firmly believe that we need robust exploration of our Solar System and I think man is part of that".

Elon Musk's SpaceX and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin have both included manned missions to Mars in their long-term goals.

For Borman however, "there's a lot of hype about Mars that's nonsense".

The launch of Apollo 8 was set for just four days before Christmas. The picture, dubbed "Earthrise", showed humanity the beauty and fragility of our home planet, and helped invigorate the environmental movement.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's PM, their crewmate Jim Lovell also reflected on the Earthrise moment: "When I looked at the Earth itself".

"The only color that we could see and contrasted by this really unfriendly, stark lunar horizon, made me think, 'You know, we really live on a attractive little planet, ' " he says.

"And my perspective is that God has given mankind a stage on which to perform".

Anders, who now lives in Anacortes, has been featured in national and global media this week, marking the 50th anniversary of that famous mission and memorable photograph from December 1968. For the first time, people saw pictures of the earth from the moon.