Nel 1968, proprio il 24 dicembre, l’Apollo 8 entrò in orbita lunare. Per la prima volta una missione con equipaggio umano a bordo raggiungeva questo obiettivo.
Data la vigilia di Natale la NASA decise di far leggere ai tre astronauti a bordo i primi dieci versetti del libro della Genesi, il pubblico della Terra seguì la cosa tramite radio e televisione.
Di seguito la trascrizione della lettura (prelevata di peso dall’edizione in lingua inglese di Wikipedia).
“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 heavens 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.
“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, and 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.
“And God said, Let the waters under the heavens 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 He called 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.”
William Anders partecipò attivamente solo alla missione 8 del programma Apollo, Jim Lovell era già veterano del programma Gemini (7 e 12) e partecipò alle missioni 8 e 13 del programma Apollo, Frank Borman era anche lui un veterano del programma Gemini (missione 7, insieme a Lovell), partecipò solo alla missione 8 del programma Apollo.