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US Manned Spacecraft History And Photography
Apollo 8
Museum Of Science & Industry
Chicago, IL

Apollo 8

• Serial Number:103
• Flight:AS-503
• Mission:Apollo 8
• Nickname:None
• Crew:Borman, Lovell, Anders
• Launch Date:12-21-1968
• Flight Duration:6 Days, 3 Hours, 0 Minutes
Apollo 8 command module on display at the Museum Of Science & Industry in Chicago. Apollo 8 was the first manned Saturn 5 rocket flight, the first manned flight to the moon, and the first flight to orbit the moon. Jim Lovell would get a second chance to see the moon up close on Apollo 13, which, due to a mechanical problem, was not able land on the moon.

Apollo 8 was to be a second shakedown flight for the command module. But since the Apollo 7 flight was so successful, a second shakedown flight was not needed. What NASA really needed was to test the new Lunar Excursion Module in space, but the LEM was not ready yet. At that point, fate prevailed in that the CIA received word that the Soviets had a massive moon rocket on the pad ready to go. The fear was that the Soviets would try a lunar fly-by flight, and then claim to have beaten the US in flying men to the Moon. With the lunar landing still 6 months to a year away, NASA could not take that risk. To keep the Soviets in check, Apollo 8 was stacked on the massive Saturn V rocket, and sent on a circumlunar flight that would put the crew in orbit around the moon. The result was a truly remarkable moment in human history when all the world listened on Christmas eve 1968 as the astronauts read from the book of Genesis while orbiting the moon.

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