USA 1968 Apollo 8

Apollo 8 was the first human spaceflight to the Moon. The first men to circle the moon took off from Cape Kennedy aboard a giant Saturn 5 booster on Dec 21, 1968. Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr., and William A. Anders became the first men to travel beyond earth orbit to another body in the solar system, in preparatory flight for a lunar landing mission.

Photo: The Apollo 8 crew signed photo by (from left to right) James Lovell, William Anders & Frank Borman.

Photo: Apollo 8 launch.

Shortly after blastoff, the Saturn's second stage fired and a few minutes later the third stage ignited, placing the Apollo 8 in earth orbit. When almost two orbits were completed, the Saturn's thrid stage re-ignited, sending the spacecraft along the translunar trajectory at an initial speed of over 24,000 miles (38,000 km) an hour.

Apollo 8 "Orbit Covers" postmarked on launch day December 21, 1968, signed by James Lovell, Frank Borman & William Anders.

During the voyage to the moon, the astronauts televised pictures of the interior of the spacecraft and the earth and the moon in several live telecasts from the Apollo 8. Apollo 8 entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1968, about 69 hours after launch. The astronauts described the lunar surface as it appeared to each, only 70 miles away. That evening the crew made a live television broadcast while in lunar orbit, each took turns reading the first 10 verses from the Book of Genesis. The crew timed this reading to coincide with a view of the Earth, rising over the horizon of the lifeless Moon. It was the most watched broadcast in history at that time.

Photo:"Earthrise" taken by Bill Anders on 24 December 1968, signed Bill Anders.

Deep Space Network Operations Control Center at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

Apollo 8 First Manned Lunar Orbit (NASA Local Post) cover, postmarked Houston, December 24, 1968, signed by Frank Borman, James Lovell & William Anders.

The Apollo 8 crew began their return voyage on Christmas morning after 10 moon orbits and splashed down on target in the Pacific Ocean on Dec 27. The astronauts, cheerful and in good health, stepped onto the deck of the carrier Yorktown about an hour and a quater after splashdown.

USS Yorktown machine cancel 27 Dec 1968, signed by James Lovell and Frank Borman. The second cover is a Beck printed cachet cover.

Rare USS Yorktown hand cancel for Apollo 8.

Photo: Apollo 8 crew on board recovery ship, USS Yorktown, after splashed down.