Suggested Searches

3 min read

NASA Administrator Remembers Apollo Astronaut William Anders

NASA astroanut William Anders poses for his official portrait.
NASA astronaut William Anders

The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on the passing of Apollo astronaut Maj. Gen. (ret.) William “Bill” Anders, who passed away June 7, in San Juan Islands, Washington state, at the age of 90.

“In 1968, as a member of the Apollo 8 crew, as one of the first three people to travel beyond the reach of our Earth and orbit the Moon, Bill Anders gave to humanity among the deepest of gifts an explorer and an astronaut can give. Along with the Apollo 8 crew, Bill was the first to show us, through looking back at the Earth from the threshold of the Moon, that stunning image – the first of its kind – of the Earth suspended in space, illuminated in light and hidden in darkness: the Earthrise.

“As Bill put it so well after the conclusion of the Apollo 8 mission, ‘We came all this way to explore the Moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.’

“That is what Bill embodied – the notion that we go to space to learn the secrets of the universe yet in the process learn about something else: ourselves. He embodied the lessons and the purpose of exploration.

“The voyage Bill took in 1968 was only one of the many remarkable chapters in Bill’s life and service to humanity. In his 26 years of service to our country, Bill was many things – U.S. Air Force officer, astronaut, engineer, ambassador, advisor, and much more.

“Bill began his career as an Air Force pilot and, in 1964, was selected to join NASA’s astronaut corps, serving as backup pilot for the Gemini XI and Apollo 11 flights, and lunar module pilot for Apollo 8.

“He not only saw new things but inspired generation upon generation to see new possibilities and new dreams – to voyage on Earth, in space, and in the skies. When America returns astronauts to the Moon under the Artemis campaign, and ultimately ventures onward to Mars, we will carry the memory and legacy of Bill with us.

“At every step of Bill’s life was the iron will of a pioneer, the grand passion of a visionary, the cool skill of a pilot, and the heart of an adventurer who explored on behalf of all of us. His impact will live on through the generations. All of NASA, and all of those who look up into the twinkling heavens and see grand new possibilities of dazzling new dreams, will miss a great hero who has passed on: Bill Anders.”

For more information about Anders’ NASA career, and his agency biography, visit: