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Apollo 8: Part 1

Season 1Episode 76Dec 22, 2018

On the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 launch, resident historian Dr. Jennifer Ross-Nazzal recounts one of the most significant missions in human spaceflight history, featuring interviews with Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman and Bill Anders. HWHAP Episode 76.

Apollo 8 Part 1

“Houston We Have a Podcast” is the official podcast of the NASA Johnson Space Center, the home of human spaceflight, stationed in Houston, Texas. We bring space right to you! On this podcast, you’ll learn from some of the brightest minds of America’s space agency as they discuss topics in engineering, science, technology and more. You’ll hear firsthand from astronauts what it’s like to launch atop a rocket, live in space and re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. And you’ll listen in to the more human side of space as our guests tell stories of behind-the-scenes moments never heard before.

On the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 launch, resident historian Dr. Jennifer Ross-Nazzal recounts one of the most significant missions in human spaceflight history, featuring interviews with Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman and Bill Anders. This episode was recorded on December 13, 2018.

Houston, we have a podcast


Gary Jordan (Host): Houston, we have a podcast. Welcome to the official podcast of the NASA Johnson Space Center, Episode 76, Apollo 8, Part 1. I’m Gary Jordan, and I’ll be your host today. So, if you’re familiar with us, this is where we bring in scientists, engineers, astronauts, sometimes historians, and we tell you all the cool stuff about what’s going on right here at NASA. Sometimes we take a moment to reflect on what we’ve done in the past. So, again, if you’ve been listening to us, you may know that this is an especially good year for anniversaries. We’ve celebrated 60 years of NASA, 20 years of the International Space Station, and 50 years of Apollo, exactly 50 years ago, on the day that we released this episode. So, it would be December 21, 1968, three brave men set course for the moon for the very first time. They were Frank Borman, as commander; Jim Lovell as command module pilot; and Bill Anders as the lunar module pilot. It was the first time that humans travelled to the moon and the first time humans launch on the legendary Saturn V rocket, putting NASA one small step closer to taking that historic giant leap for all of mankind.

To recount this mission, we’re bringing in some very special guests. Returning to the podcast is Dr. Jennifer Ross-Nazzal, our historian here at the NASA Johnson Space Center. We go over not only what happened during the mission but the landscape of the Apollo program at the time and surrounding details that you may have never heard before. I also have the honor and privilege to speak with Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman, and Apollo 8 Lunar Module Pilot Bill Anders, about their historic mission. We’ll kick off today’s episode with Commander Borman. I travelled out to Montana just about two years ago to discuss his involvement in the Apollo 1 fire investigation that helped to make changes to the Apollo capsule and get NASA back on course to meet President Kennedy’s declaration of landing on the moon by the end of the decade after the tragedy. But while I was there, we had a great discussion about Apollo 8 and the decisions in planning that helped make it possible. Here’s the first bit of that conversation.

[from earlier interview]

Host: How did you get comfortable with the plan to go all the way to the moon for the Apollo 8 mission?

Frank Borman: Well, as I mentioned, I was on the committee that investigated the fire. Then I was sent out to Downey to help implement the changes that the change board in Houston had made. So, I knew that spacecraft probably as well as anybody, and, of course, I had complete confidence in the management, and Chris Kraft and his people, and Slayton, and the crew. I don’t want to sound superficial, but I didn’t have any concerns. I was absolutely convinced that we had a spacecraft that could do what it was designed to do.

Host: How did you train for the early Apollo missions, and did following the development of the vehicles play a part in compensating for maybe immature training program?

Frank Borman: Well, we didn’t find out for sure, on Apollo 8, that we were going to the moon until August. The mission was in December. That’s a very short time period, so we trained frantically. But, back then, the decisions were made by people that were competent to make them quickly. I remember I sat down with Chris Kraft and two or three of his people one afternoon. And in one afternoon, we hammered out the basic flight program for Apollo 8. Normally, that would have taken months, but, you know, I just had so much confidence in the people who were running it, like Chris and George Low, and Slayton, and Gilruth. It was a hectic time, and it was a time that demanded total dedication and total involvement, but it went smoothly.

Host: But how did the crew interact with engineers performing upgrades and the testing of the vehicle?

Frank Borman: Most of the upgrades on the vehicle had been made prior to the flight by the change board that George Low headed, like changing the hatch and things like that. So, we didn’t have the– we weren’t charged– or didn’t make any significant changes to the vehicle that I can remember. But we were very careful about the mission and not overloading it. I remember during one of the mission planning things, later on, after we had the basic flight plan laid out, somebody came up with the idea they wanted us to do EVA on the way to the moon, and, you know, this is nuts [laughs]. We’ve got a big mission in getting to the moon, beating the Russians, which was the overriding factor– beat the Russians to the moon. And now you want to jeopardize or potentially jeopardize the mission by opening a hatch that had never been opened. But, you know, as soon as I objected to that, well, Chris Kraft and others said, “Don’t worry about it,” and it went away [laughs].

Host: Awesome [laughs].

Frank Borman: And then I was stupid too, because, you know, I said, “Okay, we don’t want a camera onboard, because we don’t want to be distracted.” Well, that was nuts. The American people deserved to have it, and I was overruled by people that were smarter than I was.

Host: What communication system enhancements took place by the time Apollo 8 flew, and then what were the photo and TV requirements for the mission?

Frank Borman: Well, we had a regular photo plan. The person that was in charge of the photography on Apollo 8 was Bill Anders, and he did a real good job. As a matter of fact, he had a detailed program of everything he wanted to take a picture of. And the TV programs were coordinated before we left, and, again, this is an example of NASA in the 60s. We were told that we would have the largest audience that ever listened to a human voice on the TV program for the moon on Christmas Eve. And I said, “Well, have you got any suggestions? What do you want us to?” And the answer came back from Julian Scheer, who was head of PR for NASA. He said, “Do something appropriate,” and I thought this was remarkable and wonderful. This was America at its best, but it was a difficult thing to figure out what was appropriate. Both Anders, and Lovell, and I, and our friends– We couldn’t come up with an appropriate– Everything that looked good would seem inappropriate, and, finally, [laughs] I ask a friend, and he ask a friend. And the friend’s wife came with the idea of reading from Genesis. Turned out to be perfect.

Host: What things surprised you on Apollo 8, and what differences did you notice between the Gemini vehicle and the Apollo vehicle?

Frank Borman: The Apollo vehicle was a much more sophisticated vehicle than the Gemini vehicle. It had the capability for onboard navigation to a far greater extent than Gemini did, and Jim Lovell was the primary man responsible for navigation. We had a very sophisticated inertial platform and a automatic telescope that would pick up stars for you. I remember this is another good example of NASA at that time period. We had, as I said, an inertial platform, and the original idea or plan from the Apollo Program office was when you weren’t using the platform, shut it down. And then when you wanted to take a siding to make a burn or whatever, you brought it back up again, oriented it with the stars, and then, that way, that would save energy. Well, we had plenty of energy available for the fuel cells were working. And so my idea was, “Look, if you got a platform that’s working, why shut it down?” So, I asked the Apollo Program office. I said, “I prefer to leave it running,” and they referred the question to the people at MIT. And I got a two-page letter back from the man who had designed the program. I’ve forgotten his name. I wish I’d have saved the letter. And it validated all the reasons that we were given to shut down the inertial platform, and he signed it, and then at the bottom it said, “PS, if I were going on this mission, I’d let the damn thing run too” [laughter]. It was that kind of a deal at NASA at that time.

Host: Right, wow.

Frank Borman: Individuals made a difference.

[today’s episode]

Host: That was Frank Borman, commander of Apollo 8. We’ll play a little bit more from that interview later in today’s episode. But, for now, let’s jump right ahead to our talk with Dr. Jennifer Ross-Nazzal and the astronauts from Apollo 8, Frank Borman and Bill Anders. Enjoy.

[ Music ]

[Apollo 8 launch clip]

NASA Commentator: Ten, nine. We have ignition sequence start. The engines are on. Four, three, two, one, zero. We have commit. We have liftoff. Liftoff at 7:51 am Eastern Standard Time.

[today’s episode]

Host: Jennifer, thank you so much for coming back on Houston We Have a Podcast.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Thanks for inviting me.

Host: I’m glad we didn’t scare you off.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: [Laughter] Not too much.

Host: Okay, so last time you were on, we talked about the beginnings of the Johnson Space Center itself a lot. That was the big part of discussion a little bit about the Apollo Program, but a little bit more about the science. We had John Gruener here.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right.

Host: And we were going a little bit back and forth on that. I thought it was really interesting, but now, we are literally 50 years. From the time that we’re releasing the podcast, it’s going to be exactly 50 years from the launch of Apollo 8. So, I figured you’re the perfect person to come in and talk about this mission as the JSC historian. I wanted to start with the Apollo Program once again. You know, we talked a little bit about Mercury and Gemini before, but, basically, they kind of introduced human spaceflight and we were practicing those concepts, getting really good at it, because getting to the moon is very complex. So, by the time we get to the Apollo Program, we’re ready to fly Apollo 1, and, you know, we don’t really set off on the right foot. So, Apollo 1, what’s happening there?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Apollo 1 was a test out at the Cape, and, unfortunately, there was a fire inside the command module and all three astronauts perished. It was really devastating for the people, especially at this center, because they knew the astronauts. They worked with the astronauts on a day-to-day basis. They were friends. They knew their families. So, it was really challenging for them. I think the best example that I can give of that is Gene Kranz, who was a flight director. And he was really moved by what had happened, and he had his flight controllers, along with John Hodge, who was another flight director, come. And they spoke in the Building 30 auditorium. And he gave a speech and talked about how they knew that there were problems. They knew that they were moving too quickly, but no one stood up. No one said, “This needs to stop.” And he wrote on the board, “tough and competent,” which is something that mission operations is known by still today.

From this point on, we’ll be known as tough and competent. You know, we’ll think about these things in the future. We’ll make sure that, you know, we’re thinking about the crew and its safety, and we won’t see this happen again. So, Apollo 1 was really jarring, but, at the same time, you have people talking about how if it hadn’t been for the fire, there might have been a more dangerous situation happen with the crews in flight. A lot of people think that if the fire hadn’t happened, we might not have reached the moon by the end of the decade. So, it was a really difficult time for people working at the Space Center. And, of course, all the contractors and different NASA centers, but especially here at the Manned Spacecraft Center.

Host: Yeah, definitely, difficult, because, like you said, they’re people you know. You know, you were close with them. It’s not just a thing you lost, it’s a person; it’s a human life. But that culture shift was essential, like you’re saying, to actually making the mission successful. From what you’re saying, this culture of, you know, “Let’s just do it, and then these minor mistakes are just, you know, kind of nuisance things in the way. We won’t deal with them, and then we’ll just kind of move on, because we have a mission to do.” But I think that tough and competent is more establishing a culture of, “No, you know, we have to check ourselves.” We have to make sure that what we’re doing– There’s a human life in here, and that is just as important as the mission itself.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Absolutely. And, actually, interestingly enough, you just reminded me. Chris Kraft sat down to do an interview with us several years ago to talk about the Apollo 8 mission and talk about, before the fire happened, the challenges that he saw. And one of the big challenges that he identified was the fact that a lot of the people who were working on Apollo really hadn’t had experience in human space flight, or manned space flight, as it was known at that time. And so they didn’t understand the importance of safety and thinking about the human being that was going to be in that command module. They had experience working defense programs and other things. And so, you know, that was real, major issue for him in trying to explain to people. We have to think about the human being that’s part of this program. We can’t just overlook that. We’re not just sending a piece of hardware into space. We’re sending a human being that needs to come back safely.

Host: Exactly, and you’re referencing some key players here. You mentioned Gene Kranz. You mentioned Chris Kraft. These are leaders in human spaceflight at this period of time. George Low is another person, Robert Gilruth. You know, what are these guys’ positions, and what is their role in the Apollo program at this time?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah. So, Bob Gilruth. I think we talked about him a little bit last time. He’s center director here at the Manned Spacecraft Center. A lot of people credit him with the Apollo Program. They say we couldn’t have gotten to the moon without him. He’s really a leader. He might be the manager of this whole center, but a lot of people look at him as, you know, someone who made people stop and think. And I think a good example of this is a story that I like to tell. Dottie Lee, who was an engineer out here, she started as a computer, actually, working at NACA. She remembers there were a group of guys sitting in office working on an issue, you know, trying to work out a question. And she said, “Gilruth noticed, and he stopped, and he just asked a question, and it started them down a different line of thinking.” And so, you know, he wasn’t just a manager, he was a leader. So, a lot of people looked towards him and said, “You know, what we accomplished wouldn’t have been possible without Bob Gilruth.” So, he was really important for human spaceflight.

George Low was our previous deputy here at the Space Center. And then he became program manager of ASPO. And he was also very important, very critical to the changes that we saw happening after the fire. He replaced another program manager. He instituted significant changes. Previously, there had been a lot of complaints here, at this center, especially, that the Apollo Spacecraft Program office hadn’t been utilizing the center’s technical leadership, you know, their technical background in training. So, he decided to make it more of a center program, make it more of an MSC program and really tap into all of the engineers, and scientists, and people who were working here. And that really benefited the program. He also came up with a configuration change board, which required a lot of managers to show up on Friday afternoons and talk about a lot of the issues that they were facing and what changes needed to be made.

And, of course, he made all the decisions, but he made sure everyone had a chance to air their concerns. And he felt like if there were any concerns or problems, people would go to Bob Gilruth and complain. And he said people generally did not [laughter]. And then there’s Chris Kraft, who’s head of flight operations and the mission controllers who were working in Building 30. Obviously, a very important guy, our first flight director. Critical to this decision to go to the moon and this change in our schedule. So, you know, there’s a lot of important people working at MSC, and I think one thing that we should point out here is that this idea of sending Apollo 8 to the moon for the first time, you know, skipping over a couple of missions really was an idea that was thought of and conceived of here, and MSC had to go out and convince other centers and other NASA leaders, “This is a good idea.” So, I don’t think that often gets much credit. But that’s, you know, like I said, George Low had been our deputy center director, so really it is kind of an MSC idea.

Host: Yeah, so Apollo 8, you know, the original mission architecture wasn’t how it was flown now that we read in the history books. It was a little bit different.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right.

Host: And a lot of it has to do with the fact that the Apollo 1 fire happened, and then we had all of these tests to lead up to the next human mission, which was the first time that astronauts were actually launching to space in the Apollo Program, and that was Apollo 7. And I think that was a milestone mission just to get to Apollo 8, you know? But in and of itself, what was that mission all about?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah, Apollo 7 was important to Apollo 8, because we couldn’t have gone to Apollo 8 if Apollo 7 had not been successful, but it was the first flight that we had of Apollo, first human flight. Of course, we had done all this testing prior to that. So, we have a crew of three– Wally Schirra, who had flown on Mercury and Gemini, and he’s the commander. And then we have Walt Cunningham and Donn Eisele on that flight. You know, everything just seemed to work really well, and the system seemed to, you know, all click. That was the first time we had television onboard the spacecraft, which was really important to your folks, Public Affairs people.

Host: Yeah, we love it.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah, you know, and they had been fighting for a TV for a long time, actually. They had been trying to encourage the engineers to include a television, and they would say, “Well, we don’t have the space. Or, you know, it’d add too much weight, so we’re not going to take it onboard.” And some of the astronauts weren’t in favor of it, but Public Affairs said, “You know, this is a great way for the taxpayers, people who are paying the bills to actually see. Let them come along for a ride and see what life is like in the space capsule.” So, you know, that was a really important moment, I think, for Americans to actually see astronauts in space.

Host: Yeah, that footage, you know, Apollo 7. Apollo 8, too, as we’ll see– All very important historical moments that were captured by, you know, the cameras and the audio that was transmitted back for, you know, Public Affairs purposes.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah.

Host: The Apollo 7 was an Apollo mission, yes, but it didn’t go to the moon. Like you said, it was going to space, but it was just going around the Earth, testing the components that would eventually go to the moon. And I don’t think Apollo 8 was originally supposed to go to the moon. It was supposed to be another test mission.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right.

Host: But they accelerated the plans, right?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yes, yeah.

Host: And I think that was, in part, due to the fact that we were in the middle of a cold war. We were in the middle of a space race, and we were not just trying to advance ourselves, but we were competing with the Soviet Union at the time. And they were sending animals [laughs] around the moon at the time on Zond 5, right?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right. Yeah, they had tortoises, I think mealworms [laughs], and a few other things.

Host: Yeah.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: I think they had seeds [laughs] and bacteria, so a wide variety of things that did that circumlunar flight. So, it was, you know, just a flyby, but, you know, still, perhaps in the eyes of the world and Americans, you know, maybe at first, but not human beings.

Host: And some of the key players that we were talking about, right? Borman included, but as well as George Low and some of these key players came into a room and decided that we were going to change the architecture of Apollo 8, right?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Well, George Low had been on vacation, as I understand it, and just was thinking about this.

Host: Okay.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Because there were some problems. First of all, the lunar module– It had a lot of challenges. There was a lunar module down at the Cape. There were a lot of problems with it. They weren’t going to be able to fly it for the next mission that they wanted to. So, you know, Low was thinking, “How are we going to keep our deadline? We have this deadline that the president set, this national mandate.” And he comes up with this idea. Why don’t we just bypass that and send a crew to the moon? You know, we’ll do a circumlunar flight. And he talks it over with Chris Kraft and Bob Gilruth and, you know, really thinks about, you know, how this could be beneficial. And he often says if Bob Gilruth– just going back to the important players– If Bob Gilruth had said, “No,” he said he wouldn’t have pursued it. But Bob Gilruth thought about it for about 10 seconds he said and said, “Yeah, I think it’s a great idea” [laughs]. “Let’s move forward.” So, you know, he had a lot of respect for Bob Gilruth and his ideas about, you know, human spaceflight.

Host: Yeah. It was– I know Bill Anders, on that flight, was not a huge fan of that, because he was the resident lunar module, you know, expert. From what I understand from doing a little bit of research was how, you know, kind of excited he was to fly that lunar module, but that wasn’t part of the new Apollo 8 architecture, because going around the moon did not require him to fly or test the lunar module.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right, because there was going to be a lunar module.

Host: Exactly.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: There wasn’t one that was going to be available [laughs]. So, you know, they were just going to be in their command module.

Host: Yeah.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: And he had other tasks that he was going to be working on.

Host: Now, besides the actual elements that the astronauts are in, right? We’re talking about the lunar module, the command module. I know Apollo 7 launched on a Saturn rocket, but it was a smaller Saturn rocket.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right.

Host: I believe it was a IB.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yes.

Host: The Apollo 8, though, was going to be the first time that humans were going to launch on the legendary Saturn V, which was that big [laughs] rocket that you could feel from New York from what I– [laughs]. Seismometers can actually read that thing from New York.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah.

Host: It was so powerful. So, I know there was some uncrewed tests before that.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: There were. There were several tests. The first flight of the Saturn V, as I recall, went pretty well. The second flight, though, Apollo 6 did not go well. Chris Kraft called it “a total disaster.” It had a lot of pogo problems and oscillation issues. And so, of course, there were some people who thought, you know, “We’re going to send people on a Saturn V? The last time we had a Saturn V, it didn’t go so well. But, yet, we’re going to send men onboard to the moon?” And, of course, Wernher von Braun and his crew out at Marshall said, “No, we’ve taken care of it,” like NASA does every time [laughs] that there is a problem. Of course, you investigate, and you solve the issues, figure out, you know, what the problems were and how they can be resolved and fixed. And so he guaranteed that the rocket would be ready in time. As a matter of fact, you know, we talked a little bit about Low coming up with this idea. He talked to Kraft, and then they talked to Gilruth. And then they called Wernher, and Gilruth said, “We need to talk to you about something.” And he said, “Well, you know, I’ll have some time tomorrow.” He said, “No, we need to talk to you about it now.” So, they went out on the Gulfstream and went to talk to Wernher von Braun.

Host: Oh, wow.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: To convince him of the importance, again, you know, like MSC, taking [laughs] that show on the road and trying to convince people, “Hey, this is a really important idea. This is a way we can best the Soviet Union.”

Host: Yeah, again, you know, going back to that political pressure, right? Not only are you trying to advance the mission, but you got to do it by the end of the decade. You got to beat the Soviet Union. There’s all that going on.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right, and there was a concern that the CIA had footage of, you know, a possible moon rocket getting readied. And so, you know, there was another impetus for the United States to move forward.

Host: Yeah.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: To put forth, you know, this amazing mission that we hadn’t considered at this point.

Host: Yeah, and I know that, you know, part of accelerating the plan and getting to the architecture of Apollo 8 was the original Apollo 8 crew had to be flip-flopped.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right.

Host: I think it was Jim McDivitt, Dave Scott, and Russell–

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Schweickart?

Host: Schweickart, yes.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah.

Host: Okay. Yeah, all right. I have them here, but [laughs].

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: No, it’s okay, yeah [laughs].

Host: But they had a flip-flop, right, just because– Well, you can probably explain it better [laughs].

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Well, yeah, they had decided to flip the missions. Actually, Deke contacted Frank Borman who was out at Downey, because Deke Slayton, of course, was involved in these discussions as well, because George wanted to know “Would the flight crews be able to handle this?”

Host: Slayton was in charge of the astronauts right?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yes, he was in charge of the astronauts. So, he called Borman and said, “You know, I want you to go to the moon. I want your crew to go to the moon.” They were out in Downey working in their spacecraft. He left behind his two crewmembers and went back to Houston and was told, “This is your next mission. This is your charge.” And I think, you know, it was kind of exciting, probably, for Borman, because the mission that he was going to be on was just kind of a repeat of the Apollo 8 mission. They were going to be at a much higher altitude, but it really wasn’t as exciting, I think. I mean, this is going to be exciting– the first crew to go around the moon.

Host: Yes.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: So, of course, he goes back and tells his crew, “We’re going to the moon” [laughs].

Host: And we’re going fast, right? I think it had an accelerated training program that would be ready even faster than they originally thought.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Four months.

Host: Four months?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah, four months is the training time that they had, so very quick.

Host: So, moving up to launch day, you know, December 21, 1968. We’re lifting off from Kennedy’s Space Center up on the Saturn V rocket. Leading up to that point, you know, what steps did we have to do to get there, just to launch day, from the four months?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah. Well, you know, you have to work on your flight plan. You have to work on your trajectories. You got to get everything ready for the crew. I mean, just simple basic things like food– making sure you have enough food for the crew. Training, you know? Accelerated training times for the crew, spending a lot of time in a new command module. Because they weren’t going in their spacecraft that they originally were going in. They were flip-flopping. So, they had a new spacecraft. And spacecrafts, while they may have been similar, you know, they all have their little quirks. So, you know, there’s a lot that had to be done. Mission Control had to do a lot of work. Chris Kraft, actually, before he agreed to Wetlow put forth, said, “I need to have some guys for Mission Control. Take a look at this. Is this even possible? Can we do this?” And they came back and said, “Yes.” You know, the original idea was, “Well, we’ll just go around the moon, kind of do a flyby, do a look, sort of a peek at the backside of the moon and come home.

But his guys, Tindall, for instance, and John Mayer came back and said, “We don’t just want to just fly by. What we want to do is we want to go into lunar orbit.” And he was kind of concerned at that. Like, why would you add so much risk to this mission? You know, we’re adding enough risk as it is. We’ve shortened the timeframe, and they said, “Well, you know, we’re committing a lot of resources just to go around the moon once. Maybe we should use this as a learning opportunity for future missions.” So, that way, we can learn a lot more and be prepared for these future missions that are going to be going to the moon. Take advantage of these opportunities to learn more.

Host: And that was part of Apollo 8, right, was inserting the spacecraft into lunar orbit?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yes.

Host: Not just slinging around the back?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right, yes. The trajectory people could have put them on what’s known as a “free return trajectory,” so the moon would have captured them and brought them back out in a slingshot, brought them back to Earth. But, yeah, they had to actually go into lunar orbit. They had to use another engine to make sure they could get down and circle the moon.

Host: Yeah. Now, you know, even on launch day, actually, you know, going past trans-lunar injection, right? So, that was the first time that [laughs] that happened.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right [laughs].

Host: And even, like you said, in mission control, everyone thinking, “Is this even possible?” Mission Control, at the time, only really showed, you know, the Earth. Any mission you did only showed the map of the Earth, because that’s really all you needed to be concerned about. Now you have to flip the map and show the Earth and the moon. It’s a little bit different even in that sense. But even inside the capsule, I know Borman actually got a little bit sick on the first couple days, which was kind of a surprise. Because, you know, he was a test pilot and has flown all different kinds of aircraft.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right.

Host: He’s like, “Really? Now, now I’m going to get sick?” [laughter].

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah, yeah.

Host: If I remember correctly, that was actually, like, almost an extreme case of motion sickness.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right, yeah. Space adaptation syndrome.

Host: Yeah.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Which people really hadn’t dealt with much.

Host: Right.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Because in Mercury and Gemini, there wasn’t much room to maneuver. You know, you just kind of stuck. I think they called Gemini, like, the front of a Volkswagen bug, you know [laughs]? That’s how much room you had. So, you’re just sitting there. You know, he had been on this mission before, Gemini 7, and he’d been in orbit 14 days. And he hadn’t suffered from this, but they’re moving around now in a capsule. You have a lot more movement. And I think Anders even noticed that when.

Host: Yeah.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: He started moving around, or maybe it was Lovell? Like, whoa, you know, don’t move your head too quickly [laughs]. But, yeah, I mean, he definitely suffered from this motion sickness, and, of course, the rest of the crew wanted to alert Mission Control, and he wasn’t too excited about doing that.

Host: Right [laughter]. He was a straight and narrow kind of guy. He really was the, you know, head forward, just do the mission. So, Apollo 8. Obviously, you know, this is learning how to go around the moon the first time that humans are leaving the orbit of Earth and actually influenced by the gravity of another celestial body. It’s a big deal. But what exactly were the requirements of Apollo 8? What were we really setting out to figure out on this mission?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Well, you know, one of the big things that they wanted to know that Chris Kraft had asked a lot of the geologists is, “What do you want to learn from this mission?” Because the crew would be going around the moon for many orbits, and so, you know, what did they want to know? And they wanted to know more about the moon itself. They could see things, but they couldn’t see things in great detail. So, they wanted to know more about these craters; potential landing sites; what might be, for instance, at the Sea of Tranquility; different mountain ranges; you know, descriptions of the moon, you know, up close? Because they were going to be going around it, what, 69 miles above the moon, so that was one of the big things that they really wanted to know. Plus, you know, just testing of hardware. How are things going to operate around the moon? How are we going to communicate? How well are things going to work? Is that engine that we’re planning on lighting– Is that going to work in lunar orbit?

Host: Which was, like you said, a big risk. You know, one of those things, “Do we want to actually risk this?” Going back to this is human life that we’re talking about here.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah.

Host: But it’s about trusting the hardware, and these guys were part of, you know, even the design and the verification of the hardware throughout the whole thing, because it was ultimately going to be them flying it. So, yeah, definitely mapping the lunar surface, right? You got a perspective like no other. You’re at the moon. So, that’s not bad. There’s a lot of photography requirements. From what I understand, though, when they actually entered into lunar orbit, taking a photo of the Earth was not a requirement?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right.

Host: They honestly didn’t even think about it, but there it was, right? That’s kind of how that happened with that Earthrise photo.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right. Yeah, so they were going around and they came around, and it’s like, “Oh, my gosh. Look at that.” And in one of the interviews we have with Bill Anders, he talks about how, you know, he looks up and he sees this very colorful Christmas ornament is how he described it, when compared to, like, the drab– I think he called it the– ugliness of the lunar environment, you know, is just kind of drab and gray. But there’s this Christmas ornament, and, you know, they’re all in awe. “Oh, my gosh. Look.” Against the blackness of space, this really stood out– the blues and the greens.

Host: Yeah, what was the quote? We went to the moon and discovered the earth?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yes, yeah.

Host: Yeah, I love that, right? Because you’re at the moon. Right, finally. There it is, right in front of you, and you’re like, “Yeah, that was interesting. Oh, look at the Earth” [laughter]. Right? That place where we’ve been all of our lives. That looks pretty. But it’s a different perspective, because no one’s ever seen it from that far away. Like, literally, nobody.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right, yeah.

Host: It was entirely new.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah, these were the first three men to see that.

Host: Yeah.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: And then, you know, the effect of that photo that it had, once it got published and printed, the fact that, you know, we’ve seen environmental movement as a result of this, an Earth Day, the creation of the EPA Act, Clean Air Act. All of these things come out, I think, as a result of that photo.

Host: Wow.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: You know, just how fragile that Earth really is when you think about it.

Host: We hear, though, a lot even from astronauts on the space station right now. They’re pretty close to the Earth, but they get a real nice look at that thin line.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right.

Host: That’s separating Earth from space. They’re like, wow, that’s it? Yeah, and it goes back to, you know, even the photo from that far away established the EPA. That’s not bad. So, this might be kind of obvious at the time that this podcast was publishing, but, you know, we said we were launching on the 21st. Well, right around Christmas time. But, again, you know, we need to get to the moon, on the moon, by the end of the decade, and we’re already at the end of 1968. So, you know, here we are, flying during Christmas. But they took that opportunity to do something special for the season, right? On December 21, they read from Genesis.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve.

Host: Oh, December 24.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: No, it’s okay.

Host: Yeah, December 24, they read from.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: You’re thinking of launch. It’s okay. It happens [laughter]. I probably have said some things wrong.

Host: Yeah.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah, so they were thinking about what they wanted to say. And, actually, Borman talked to head of Public Affairs who was Julian Scheer at the time. And Julian Scheer said, “You’re going to have this audience. You’re going to have hundreds of thousands of people watching, and, you know, think of something,” which is interesting to me. Because, in comparison to the Soviets who we were at a race with, they probably would have come up with some sort of propaganda that they wanted the cosmonauts to read. But here the astronauts were allowed to come up with something, and, you know, Borman actually was kind of racking his brain and talking with several people about what he could possible say. You know, what might resonate with some of these people who were tuning in to learn more about Apollo 8 and the moon, you know, the excitement? And so he asked several folks, and, finally, someone came up with the idea of Genesis. It was actually someone’s wife. And so when they were talking during that– Was it 24-minute?– broadcast, they talked, of course, about what they were seeing in terms of the moon and, you know, how dark and desolate it was, you know?

You know, how they wouldn’t want to necessarily live there. It wasn’t very inspiring [laughs]. But then they did read from Genesis. They decided to read from– I think it was– the first 10 verses. They each took an opportunity to do that and then good night, you know, to people of the good Earth, you know?

Host: Yeah.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: But a lot of people really appreciated that. There, of course, was an individual who took issue with it– Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who filed a court case against any federal employees, you know, reading the Bible or saying prayers, these sort of things. But, overwhelmingly, there was a lot of support for NASA. There were lots of letters that came in saying that they supported what the crew of Apollo 8 had done.

Host: Right. Yeah, it was going back to, you know, establishing the capability for broadcasting. It just shows how, you know, bringing everyone from Earth onboard this spacecraft, looking back at the Earth, these three men are right above the moon. And talking about that, it might look a little thing, and it might be a little bit of– a lot of extra effort to actually make that a capability, but look how impactful it was. We’re talking about it now, 50 years later.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yes.

Host: Of course, the next day was Christmas Day.

[Apollo 8 mission audio]

Bill Anders: We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you. In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness.

Jim Lovell: And God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters. Let it divide the waters from the waters.” And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament, and it was so. And God called the firmament “heaven,” and the evening and the morning were the second day.

Frank Borman: God said, let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear, and it was so. And God called the dry land “earth,” and the gathering together of the waters called he “seas,” and God saw that it was good. And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.

[today’s episode]

Host: So, I know they had a special Christmas meal already planned, right? Planning for all of the meals, they had a Christmas meal?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right, right. I’m sure you’ve heard about the food. The food was notoriously bad [laughs] for Mercury and Gemini, a lot of freeze-dried food, a lot of cubes. You probably seen them on site. I know that some of the center buildings have them as little tiny exhibits, but not really inspiring [laughs], not a favorite. But here, you know, the food folks had thought about this possibility, and so they actually gave them turkey, and gravy, and cranberries, and grape punch, but they had also packed some brandy for the crew, which Borman said we wouldn’t touch, because if there was an accident, it would be blamed on the fact that the crew had had alcohol. So, those went back into storage. But, you know, I think that was a nice moment, a nice touch for the crew to get to celebrate that holiday with such a traditional meal.

Host: Yeah. Yeah, it was Borman’s call not to drink it, and I think he said, “We’ll drink it after the mission,” and then I don’t think they ever did.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: I don’t think so.

Host: Yeah.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: I think Jim Lovell actually put his bottle up for sale.

Host: Wow [laughter]. Yeah, so they really never drank it [laughter]. Okay, so I think, you know, obviously from the moon, you got to come home, right? So, what was that journey like? Like, you’re around the moon, and now you’re leaving. You’re going back towards Earth and to the end of Apollo 8.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right. I think the crew was probably pretty exhausted by that point [laughs]. I don’t think they got much sleep. As a matter of fact, at some point, Borman told his crew, while they were going around the moon to get to bed, you know, kind of like this fatherly action [laughs]? You’re tired. You’re making mistakes. Get to bed. So, I think they were tired, but also just elated over the fact that they had successfully achieved this mission. And, of course, going around the backside of the moon for the last time and firing that engine, and they came out, and Lovell said, “You know, yes, there is indeed a Santa Claus” [laughs]. Things worked well. So, you know, I think, you know, people were pretty emotional, especially here at the Space Center. You know, I think the crew was probably just really exhausted.

Host: Oh, yeah.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: They had accomplished a lot.

Host: They honestly did, and, speaking of that, I wanted to take a break real quick and jump to the remainder of the interview that we opened up with, with Frank Borman. We talked about Earthrise a little bit, a little bit about Ander’s view of Earthrise.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah.

[Sound effect]

Host: Your thoughts as you moved out of the orbit of the Earth into trans-lunar orbit. You’re now moving away towards the moon. What were your thoughts at that time?

Frank Borman: Well, I wish I could be romantic or poetic, but I’m not. I don’t have any particular thoughts. It was part of the mission. It worked perfectly. And, okay, now we’re on our way to the moon. What’s the next thing on the flight plan?

Host: The idea of going to the moon was an audacious goal at the time. And just as you said, it was primarily driven by, you know, beating the Russians and all that, but it was necessary to meet Kennedy’s directive to do so by the end of the decade. Did you believe that you had a good chance of getting to the moon? Yeah, did you believe you had a good chance?

Frank Borman: You know, people have often asked me, “What’d you think your odds were of getting back alive on this mission?” And I know Bill Anders had calculated what he thought. I forgot what it was– a third that we would not get the mission done but a third we’d get back, a third we’d get the mission done, and a third we wouldn’t come back. But I thought a 100% we’d make it, and it’d be a successful mission. You know, in general, Phillips, who was Apollo Program manager in Washington, same thing. He said, “Look, if I didn’t think it was going to be 100% successful, we wouldn’t fly the mission” [laughs]. Why would you start out on a uncertain task with less than a 100% reliability? Which is not reliability, but assurance in your own mind that it’s got to work.

Host: Absolutely.

Frank Borman: Confidence it’ll work.

Host: What did you think about the magnitude of the accomplishment? So, as you said, you know, you were really thinking about the next thing, but once you actually, you know, saw the moon, once you were in lunar orbit, what did you think about that accomplishment?

Frank Borman: Well, the whole focus on the mission turned to the Earth after we saw the Earth coming up over the lunar surface, and Bill Anders took that picture of the Earthrise, which was, I guess, one of the iconic pictures of the last century.

Host: Still is.

Frank Borman: But in any event, I think it was Bill, too, who said, “Look, we went all the way to the moon to discover the Earth.” The Earth was the only thing in the universe that had any color. It was blue, basically, with white clouds, and it was very lonely, and the universe was pitch black. And I think it gave us a sense of the fact that we better do our best to take care of this little blue marble that we have.

[Sound effect]

Host: So, once again, that was Frank Borman, commander of Apollo 8. Bill Anders, the lunar module pilot was also on that mission and took the famous Earthrise photo, a shot of the Earth from the lunar orbit. So, here’s Anders, reflecting on that photograph.

[Sound effect]

Bill Anders: It didn’t really sink in on me for a while, but others picked it up. It sort gave a kick-start to the environmental movement, and so, I think, Earthrise will go down in history as an iconic first, real view of our home planet, which is very fragile and very delicate.

[Sound effect]

Host: So, again, from the moon, they discovered the Earth. I love that. But then they have to actually go back to the Earth. They land from the mission. I think what was interesting is, even through all of the testing, through the accelerated program, through the confidence in the vehicle, I think they still said, “This mission has a 50/50 percent chance of succeeding. Do you know why that was?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Well, you know, I think that figure, first of all, comes from Chris Kraft who went to talk with Borman’s wife.

Host: I see.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Who was concerned about that. And she said, “Can you give me the odds?” and he said, “I think there’s a 50/50 chance that they’ll come back.” But I’ve also seen other numbers, and Bill Anders, I think, said that there was, like, a 30% chance that the mission would succeed. But I haven’t really come across any reports that anyone did at NASA. I think they were too busy trying to get ready for this mission to say, “Will this mission succeed or fail?” You know, NASA makes things look really easy [laughter]. But NASA is really good at preparing for spaceflight and thinking about contingencies. That’s one of the things that NASA’s really good at.

Host: Yeah.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Thinking about every possibility, looking at things like redundancies and, you know, that engine that they were going to use around the moon didn’t require an ignition source. It was hypergolic fuels. You know, all they had to do was open it, and the chemical reaction would start. So, you know, I think that there were certainly concerns, but I think that NASA had done a lot of the things that it needed to do in terms of improving the hardware after the fire. And so, while there may have been some concerns. Of course, Chris Kraft, I think, mentioned when he was in mission control waiting while they’re waiting for the crew to come out and say that that engine had lit and they’re coming home, I think, at one point, he told Chuck Berry to be quiet, you know [laughs]? Because he’s worried; he’s concerned. And he got a little teary-eyed about that, the fact that they had achieved that.

Host: Definitely a milestone. I think, at the core of it, really, is just humility. I mean, like you said, they made it look easy, and maybe they said that it was a 50/50 chance, but, ultimately, the three men got on that vehicle and flew it, and they had the support of all of mission controls who were flying the mission, and they knew the mission. I can’t remember the person that said it. I’m paraphrasing here. Something along the lines of they’re not really too concerned about the things that they thought of that could go wrong. It’s the things they haven’t thought of.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right.

Host: That could go wrong that would really be a– You know, part of the job was trying to think of everything. But, you know, again, once they landed, it was a successful mission, obviously. And they went out to do a few more missions, but these men were named Time Magazine, “Men of the Year,” which I think was pretty cool [laughs]. And they had parades for them.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah, yeah. Well, they really were, you know, the heroes. While there were hundreds of thousands of people working on the Apollo Program, it was the astronauts– and they still are. You know, they’re the most visible part of our space program. They’re the ones who put their lives on the line and climb aboard, you know, a rocket and go into space and do the things that you and I may not want to do, do experiments on ourselves, or be away from family for weeks, months at a time, doing training exercises. You know, it’s a really grueling career. But, also, I think their flight really resonated with so many people. I think its legacy, really, is the fact that, if only for a brief time, brought together the people of the United States and the world. You know, there was a lot of chaos going on in ’68, especially in the United States. We had several assassinations. We had a very unpopular war that the United States was not winning, the Vietnam War. There were a lot of riots at universities and urban centers, so, you know, just for a brief time, people came together to celebrate this mission over a very important holiday.

Host: I think that’s a huge thing to remember is just what else was going on in ’68 and how impactful this was. You know, there’s a reason that these guys were named “men of the year,” despite everything else that was going on. This mission, you know, going back to just the NASA part, was important for setting up for the ultimate lunar landing in July of the following year, but we had Apollo 9, 10 and 11.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right.

Host: So, real quickly, the mission profiles for those three missions that ultimately led us to boots on the moon.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah, so 9 was another Earth orbit mission, but they were testing the lunar module.

Host: Finally.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah [laughter]. The lunar module’s ready to go, so, you know, rendezvousing with it, testing those techniques. And then Apollo 10, really, is what they call the “dress rehearsal” for the lunar landing. You know, they go around the moon. They get in the lunar module. They go down to– I don’t know. I think it’s maybe 50,000 feet. I’d have to check that. Don’t quote me on that. But they don’t end up landing on the moon, and they go back to their command module and return home. And then we’ve got Apollo 11, which is the first lunar landing. But we still don’t know, you know? Is it going to work? Is it going to be successful? Even though it’s slated to be the first lunar landing, is something going to happen to prevent that from occurring?

Host: Right, and Apollo 10 really just gave them the confidence for that 95% of getting to the surface. It’s just from whatever mile mark they actually got the lunar module down to, but didn’t end up landing. Just came back to rendezvous back with the command module. But for Apollo 11, going down to the surface was a feat in and of itself with all kinds of crazy things that happened that I want to save for [laughs].

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Sure.

Host: The Apollo 11 Podcast.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah [laughs]. If I can, though, I just wanted to throw out.

Host: Sure.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: A lot of people thought that Apollo 8 was probably the most challenging mission, but it gave people the confidence that they could land on the moon, and a lot of people thought, you know, Apollo 8 was, like, baking the cake and getting it ready. Apollo 11 was just sort of the icing on the cake, you know? Like, they had already demonstrated, “Hey, we can go to the moon.”

Host: Yeah.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: We are capable of doing those things. So, I think a lot of people had a lot of faith in the fact that this was going to be accomplished because of this mission. I think another legacy of this flight.

Host: Yeah. Now, the three crewmembers of Apollo 8, Frank Borman, Bill Anders, and Jim Lovell. Two of them, it would be their last mission, right? Borman and Anders. This was, I believe, the last mission. I think the first for Anders.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Right.

Host: And last for Anders.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yes.

Host: Second for Borman. First one he commanded. But Lovell would go on to fly, I believe, one more?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Thirteen.

Host: Thirteen.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah.

Host: Which was another one we definitely have to talk about.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah, we’ll definitely talk about that [laughter].

Host: But where did their careers go off to after that?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah, let’s see. Borman ended up leaving, and, at one point, became CEO of Eastern Air Lines. Well, Anders, actually, ended up serving as executive secretary for the National Aeronautics and Space Council. Pretty significant. And he ended up having this great career. He actually worked on the Atomic Energy Commission, ended up leaving government at some point and serving as a fellow for the American Enterprise Institute, joins GE, ends up working for– let’s see– General Dynamics. So, a pretty significant career after his years of government service.

Host: Definitely. You know, one thing we touched on a lot was all of, you know, his leadership for Apollo 8, but he was also very critical to the Apollo 1 fire investigation and convincing, I believe, Congress that we should continue to fly Apollo.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yes.

Host: He kind of was one of the leaders in that charge. But, yeah, so Apollo 8 [laughter]. I think that pretty much sums it up, unless I’m forgetting something before we wrap up.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Chris Kraft referred to this mission as NASA’s most significant flight. You know, it really, in his mind, stands out as a really important mission.

Host: There’s a lot of firsts here: the first time we launch on the Saturn V, the first time that we left the Earth. You can even say, “This is the first time we went to the moon.” You know, we didn’t have boots on the ground, but we were there. We were at the moon.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yes. Well, and we had bested the Soviet Union, because the Soviet Union was no longer going to try to fly men to the moon. You know, technically, if you want to look at it that way, we had already won in ’68. But we hadn’t landed on the moon.

Host: Ah. Yeah, that’s actually a key component, right? Before Apollo 8, they were sending animals around the moon, but, after Apollo 8, they didn’t send any humans around the moon?

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: No.

Host: Yeah? That’s a very significant milestone. And think this is a great way to close it. This’ll be Part 1 of our series. We have another one that’s going be one of the panels that we had here, but, Jennifer, thank you so much for coming on and talking about Apollo 8. I love– like you said, this was one of the most important missions in NASA’s history, not only for the Apollo Program, but, really for human spaceflight. So, I really appreciate having you here to really go into detail about all this. So, thanks again for coming on.

Jennifer Ross-Nazzal: Yeah, my pleasure.

[ Music ]

Host: Hey, thanks for sticking around. So, once again, that was Dr. Jennifer Ross-Nazzal, our historian here at the Johnson Space Center, telling us all about Apollo 8. We also heard from clips with interviews with Frank Borman and Bill Anders. So, we are, once again, in the middle of the 50th anniversary of some of the Apollo missions. You can check out some of the great resources we have on our website Otherwise, you can check out some of the other stuff going on on some of our other NASA podcasts at We got great stuff like On a Mission, Invisible Network, Gravity Assist, and NASA and Silicon Valley live, and Rocket Ranch. You can check us out on social media. We are the NASA Johnson Space Center on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Use the #AskNASA on your favorite platform. Submit an idea. Make sure to mention it’s for Houston We Have a Podcast, and we’ll try to bring it on the show. This episode was recorded on December 13, 2018. Thanks to Alex Perryman, Pat Ryan, Norah Moran, and Kelly Humphries.

Thanks, again, to Dr. Jennifer Ross-Nazzal for coming on the show once again, and thanks to Frank Borman and Bill Anders for taking the time to speak with me. Happy 50th anniversary to NASA’s Apollo Program, and happy anniversary to the launch of Apollo 8 on the day that this episode was released, December 21, 2018, 50 years later. Merry Christmas and happy holidays. We’ll be back next week.