Encyclopedia Astronautica
Apollo 8



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Saturn V
Credit: NASA
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Apollo 8
Credit: www.spacefacts.de - www.spacefacts.de
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Aboard Apollo 8
Apollo 8 crew shown during intravehicular activity during mission
Credit: NAS
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Goclenius crater
View of Goclenius and other craters
Credit: NASA
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Sea of Tranquility
Oblique photograph looking northwest into Sea of Tranquillity
Credit: NASA
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Apollo LTA
View of the Saturn V third stage from which the Apollo 8 has separated
Credit: NASA
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Earthrise
View of rising Earth about five degrees above the Lunar horizon
Credit: NASA
Crew: Anders, Borman, Lovell. First manned flight to lunar orbit. Speed (10,807 m/s) and altitude (378,504 km) records. Mission resulted from audacious decision to send crew around moon to beat Soviets on only second manned Apollo CSM mission and third Saturn V launch. Backup crew: Aldrin, Armstrong, Haise.

Apollo 8 (AS-503) was launched from KSC Launch Complex 39, Pad A, at 7:51 a.m. EST Dec. 21 on a Saturn V booster. The spacecraft crew was made up of Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr., and William A. Anders. Apollo 8 was the first spacecraft to be launched by a Saturn V with a crew on board, and that crew became the first men to fly around the moon.

All launch and boost phases were normal and the spacecraft with the S-IVB stage was inserted into an earth-parking orbit of 190.6 by 183.2 kilometers above the earth. After post-insertion checkout of spacecraft systems, the S-IVB stage was reignited and burned 5 minutes 9 seconds to place the spacecraft and stage in a trajectory toward the moon - and the Apollo 8 crew became the first men to leave the earth's gravitational field.

The spacecraft separated from the S-IVB 3 hours 20 minutes after launch and made two separation maneuvers using the SM's reaction control system. Eleven hours after liftoff, the first midcourse correction increased velocity by 26.4 kilometers per hour. The coast phase was devoted to navigation sightings, two television transmissions, and system checks. The second midcourse correction, about 61 hours into the flight, changed velocity by 1.5 kilometers per hour.

The 4-minute 15-second lunar-orbit-insertion maneuver was made 69 hours after launch, placing the spacecraft in an initial lunar orbit of 310.6 by 111.2 kilometers from the moon's surface - later circularized to 112.4 by 110.6 kilometers. During the lunar coast phase the crew made numerous landing-site and landmark sightings, took lunar photos, and prepared for the later maneuver to enter the trajectory back to the earth.

On the fourth day, Christmas Eve, communications were interrupted as Apollo 8 passed behind the moon, and the astronauts became the first men to see the moon's far side. Later that day , during the evening hours in the United States, the crew read the first 10 verses of Genesis on television to earth and wished viewers "goodnight, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you - all of you on the good earth."

Subsequently, TV Guide for May 10-16, 1969, claimed that one out of every four persons on earth - nearly 1 billion people in 64 countries - heard the astronauts' reading and greeting, either on radio or on TV; and delayed broadcasts that same day reached 30 additional countries.

On Christmas Day, while the spacecraft was completing its 10th revolution of the moon, the service propulsion system engine was fired for three minutes 24 seconds, increasing the velocity by 3,875 km per hr and propelling Apollo 8 back toward the earth, after 20 hours 11 minutes in lunar orbit. More television was sent to earth on the way back and, on the sixth day, the crew prepared for reentry and the SM separated from the CM on schedule.

Parachute deployment and other reentry events were normal. The Apollo 8 CM splashed down in the Pacific, apex down, at 10:51 a.m. EST, December 27 - 147 hours and 42 seconds after liftoff. As planned, helicopters and aircraft hovered over the spacecraft and pararescue personnel were not deployed until local sunrise, 50 minutes after splashdown. The crew was picked up and reached the recovery ship U.S.S. Yorktown at 12:20 p.m. EST. All mission objectives and detailed test objectives were achieved, as well as five that were not originally planned.

The crew was in excellent condition, and another major step toward the first lunar landing had been accomplished.

Official NASA Account of the Mission from Chariots for Apollo: A History of Manned Lunar Spacecraft, by Courtney G Brooks, James M. Grimwood, Loyd S. Swenson, published as NASA SP-4205 in the NASA History Series, 1979.

As soon as Borman's crew learned, on 10 August, that it might fly a lunar mission, the men began to train for the moon flight. On 9 September, sessions on the Cape simulator began. Six weeks before launch, these turned into day-after-day, ten-hour work periods. With the help of the support team - Mattingly, Carr, and Brand, who followed the hardware, coordinated the preparation of checklists, and worked out spacecraft stowage - the crew was ready on time. Shortly after 2:30 on the morning of 21 December, Borman, Lovell, and Anders rose and dressed for the launch day breakfast with, among others, George Low, the man who had hatched this scheme to send them into lunar orbit on Apollo's second manned flight.

Many guests were in Florida for the send-off, thousands more than the crew had formally invited. In the chilly predawn, the visitors clogged the roads, their headlights flashing, searching for the best vantage points. Busloads of newsmen trundled through the gates, heading for the press area, and helicopter-borne groups of VIPs landed near the special viewing stand. All attention focused on Apollo 8, bathed in the glare of spotlights that made it visible for many kilometers. Radio announcers, television commentators, and public address spokesmen told millions around the world and the thousands in the Cape area that soon three astronauts would leave this globe to visit another. At 7:51, Borman, Lovell, and Anders, lying in their couches 100 meters above the launch pad, started on that journey.

Riding the huge Saturn V, propelled by more power than man had ever felt pushing him before (33.4 million newtons, or 7.5 million pounds of thrust), the crew had varied impressions. Borman thought it was a lot like riding the Gemini Titan II. Lovell agreed but added that it seemed to slow down after it left the pad. Rookie astronaut Anders likened it to "an old freight train going down a bad track." The S-IC stage shook the crew up, but not intolerably. Despite all the power, the acceleration reached only four g. At engine cutoff, it dropped to one g. During S-II stage acceleration, pogo stayed within allowable limits and caused no pain to the pilots. They were glad, however, when the engines cut off and the second stage fell away. A dozen minutes after launch, the S-IVB third stage had already fired to drive itself and the spacecraft into earth-orbital flight. Borman, Lovell, Anders, and the flight controllers checked the spacecraft and third stage systems for a revolution and a half, in preparation for the next step in the mission. At 10:17, former crew member Collins - back from his bout with the bone spur and now at the capcom's console rather than in the center couch of Apollo 8 - opened a new era in space flight when he said, "All right, you are go for TLI [translunar injection]." Many watchers in Hawaii, who had seen a launch on live television for the first time, raced outside and looked for the fireworks high above them.

For five minutes, the S-IVB fired, increasing its speed from 7,600 to 10,800 meters per second. Borman, Lovell, and Anders now traveled at a greater speed than any human being ever had, shooting outward fast enough to escape the earth's gravitational influence. Asked later about impressions at translunar injection, Borman replied:

"Psychologically it was a far easier flight than Gemini 7. You adopt a philosophical approach after you burn TLI, and I wasn't really concerned about anything. When you are in earth orbit you are always aware that if something happens you have to react quickly to get down. Once you burn TLI, . . . you really are not concerned with reacting swiftly because it is going to take you [at least] two or three days to get home anyway. "

The command and service modules separated from the S-IVB and flipped around so the crew could photograph the adapter, where the lunar module would be housed on future voyages. Borman commented that formation flying was no more difficult with the S-IVB than it had been with the Gemini Agena and that docking with the LM should pose no problems. Since they had no lander on this mission, they chose not to get too close to the S-IVB. The crew used the small reaction control engines on the service module to begin a separation maneuver with a velocity change of less than a meter per second. But Borman soon noted that the S-IVB was getting closer, instead of moving away. Both the crew and the flight controllers were puzzled. Communications crackled back and forth. Kraft and Bill Tindall talked with Carl R. Huss, who was manning the mission planning and analysis desk in the flight support area, demanding to know what to do. Huss held them off until his group had time to figure out that the crew had not made its maneuver exactly as it should. Studying the relative positions of the two vehicles, Huss soon gave the controllers new information to radio to the space ship. The crew fired the small engines again - this time for a change of two meters per second, changing the trajectory and moving away from the too - friendly third stage.

Early in the flight, the crew was captivated by the view of the earth from space, especially the detail revealed at a single glance. Borman commented, "We see the earth now, almost as a disk." Then he asked Collins to "tell Conrad he lost his record." Conrad and Gordon had been the highflight champions of Gemini. Lovell, looking through the center window, began to call out place names as if he were an announcer in a railway terminal: Florida, Cuba, Gibraltar, Africa (East and West), Central America, and South America. Borman suggested that Collins warn "the people in Tierra del Fuego to put on their rain coats; looks like a storm . . . out there."

A safe distance away from the S-IVB, the three crewmen left their couches to take off their pressure suits and met with a surprise - motion sickness. Rapid body movements brought on nausea. Borman suffered the most. There had been a rash of gastroenteritis cases at the Cape just before launch. This "24-hour intestinal flu" might have caused Borman's illness, but there was another possibility. Because it had taken longer to get away from the S-IVB than had been planned, he was late getting to his rest period. To make sure he went to sleep quickly, he had taken a Seconal tablet. During preflight testing of the medical supplies Borman had a slight reaction to this sleep-inducing pill, so he blamed the medication for at least part of his distress. When he awakened, after very fitful rest, Borman retched and vomited twice and had a loose bowel movement. The waste management system worked, but just barely. The crew reported their problems to the flight surgeon and, as Collins said later in Carrying the Fire, "the first humans to leave the cradle had called for their paediatrician." Next day, however, Borman happily told flight control, "Nobody is sick."

For the first six hours of flight, the round hatch window through which Lovell watched the earth receding had been clear. Then it had clouded over until it was almost useless. The clouding was caused, as it had been during Schirra's flight, by a gas from the silicone oils used in a sealant compound. The two side windows also fogged over, but to a smaller degree. Only the rendezvous windows remained clear throughout the mission. On one occasion crew members complained that pictures of the sun taken through the side windows would be of little value, and they could not even see the sun through the rendezvous windows. They could not see the moon through any of the windows. Navigator Lovell later recalled that

"we never really saw the moon. It was a crescent moon, and most of it was dark. I saw it several times in the optics as I was doing some sightings. By and large the body that we were rendezvousing with, that was coming from one direction as we were going to another, we never saw. And we took it on faith that the moon would be there, which says quite a bit for Ground Control."

At a distance of 223,000 kilometers from the earth, 31 hours after leaving home and 40 before reaching the moon, the crew put on its first television show. Scenes showed the inside of the craft, with Borman as director and narrator, Lovell as actor (preparing a meal , and all three crewmen as Cameramen. Anders installed a telephoto lens to get a better view of the earth, but the lens did not work. When the crew switched back to the interior lens, the earth looked like a white blob. Lovell pointed out that the earth was very bright and they were using a low-level lens. Borman added that the camera was pointing through a hazy window. He was disappointed that they could not show their viewers the "beautiful, beautiful view, with [a predominantly] blue background and just huge covers of white clouds."

A hundred thousand kilometers farther out and a day later, the crew again unstowed the television camera. This time the telephoto lens worked better. Lovell described what the audience was seeing: the Western Hemisphere was clearly in view and again he called out names - the North Pole, South America all the way down to Cape Horn, Baja California, and the southwestern part of the United States. Once, in a thoughtful vein, he turned to his commander:

"Frank, what I keep imagining is if I am some lonely traveler from another planet what I would think about the earth at this altitude, whether I think it would be inhabited or not. . . . I was just curious if I would land on the blue or brown part of the earth. "

Anders interjected, "You better hope that we land on the blue part."

Following the second video presentation, the crew neared a new stage in manned space flight - travel to a place where the pull of earth's gravity was less than that of another body. At 3:29 in the afternoon on Monday, 23 December, that historic crossing was made. At that point, the spacecraft was 326,400 kilometers from the earth and 62,600 from the moon, and its velocity had slowed to 1,218 meters per second. Gradually, as the ship moved farther into the moon's gravitational field, it picked up speed.

Now the crew prepared for another event - again denoted by one of the abbreviations with which space flight jargon abounds, LOI (lunar-orbit insertion). Since the craft was on a free-return trajectory - a path shaped like a figure eight that would loop the ship around the back of the moon and return it to the earth - Borman wanted "a perfect spacecraft before we can consider the LOI burn." He would hate to leave that good trajectory and then find out that something was wrong. So far, the big service module engine had worked perfectly every time, but the path to the moon had been so precise that only two of four planned midcourse firings had been necessary. Ground control assured him that everything was in order. At 68 hours 4 minutes into the mission Carr, at the console, told the crew, "You are go for LOI." He also informed the astronauts that the closest point of their approach should be 119 kilometers above the moon. Minutes before this transmission, when Borman commented that they still had not seen the moon, Carr asked what they could see. Anders replied, "Nothing. It's like being on the inside of a submarine."

During Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo orbital missions, there had been periods of communications silence, especially in the southern hemisphere, because the worldwide tracking network did not cover all areas. Up till now Borman and his crew had been in continuous contact during the translunar voyage, but no communications would be possible when the spacecraft went behind the moon. Just before loss of signal in the early hours of 24 December (at 4:49), Carr wished them a safe journey, and Lovell answered, "We'll see you on the other side." Eleven minutes later, traveling at 2,600 meters per second with their heads down so they could watch the lunar landscape, they fired the service module engine for four minutes to reduce their speed by 915 meters per second and get into an orbit approximately 111 by 312 kilometers. Although the engine performed flawlessly, Lovell called it the "longest four minutes I ever spent." While the engine was firing, Lovell and Anders exclaimed about their fantastic view of the moon. Anders added that he had trouble telling the holes from the bumps. Borman called them back to watch their dials.

Borman, Lovell, and Anders knew that the engine had fired successfully, but nearly a billion persons in 64 countries (according to TV Guide ) did not. If the spacecraft had not gone into orbit, it would come back into communications range 10 minutes earlier than planned. After what seemed an interminable wait, Paul Haney, on the public information console in flight control, gleefully announced, "We got it! We've got it! Apollo 8 now in lunar orbit."

After 15 minutes of describing the first engine firing and getting numbers for the second firing (to circularize the orbit at 112 kilometers above the lunar surface), the crew members told their fellow men what the moon looked like at this close range. Lovell said:

"Okay, Houston, The moon is essentially gray, no color; looks like plaster of Paris or sort of a grayish deep sand. We can see quite a bit of detail. The Sea of Fertility doesn't stand out as well here as it does back on earth. There's not as much contrast between that and the surrounding craters. The craters are all rounded off. There's quite a few of them; some of them are newer. Many of them . . . - especially the round ones - look like hits by meteorites or projectiles of some sort. "

(Later, during the technical debriefings, Lovell added that

"the Lunar Orbiter photographs which we had on board were quite adequate. There was no problem at all in determining objects particularly on the near side of the moon. There are suitable landing-sites. They are very easily distinguished. We could pick them up. We could work our way in. . . . The Lunar Orbiter photos again were helpful . . . to check the craters on the back side.) "

After looking at the back of the moon on several orbits, Anders was moved to comment:

"It certainly looks like we're picking the more interesting places on the moon to land in. The backside looks like a sand pile my kids have been playing in for a long time. It's all beat up, no definition. Just a lot of bumps and holes. "

As Apollo 8 whirled around the moon on its ten two-hour circuits, the spacecraft location display seemed odd at first to those watching the map in mission control. In earth orbit, spacecraft had always gone from left to right on the display panels; on the lunar charts, however, this vehicle moved from right to left. And while it traveled the crew continued to talk about the view. Anders expressed the general opinion that the moon was an "unappetizing looking place"; nevertheless, it did have a kind of stark beauty. Astronauts commented on the hues of light and dark caused by earthshine and sunshine. They gave temporary names to some of the craters: names like (Harrison) Schmitt, (George) Low, (Robert) Gilruth, (Joseph) Shea, (Theodore) Freeman, (Gus) Grissom, (Ed) White, (James) Webb, (Thomas) Paine, (Elliot) See, (Alan) Shepard, (Donald) Slayton, (Samuel) Phillips, (Christopher) Kraft, (Roger) Chaffee, (Charles) Bassett, and (Gerald) Carr. Once, when flight controller John W. Aaron was the only one to notice in the general excitement that the environmental system needed an adjustment, Crater Aaron was named on the spot.

NASA had been asked by some to postpone the December lunar-orbiting mission, lest some accident mar Christmas celebrations on earth. But now, as Apollo 8 circled the moon this Christmas Eve, there was additional rejoicing. Early in December, Borman and a friend had selected a prayer for the occasion. During the third lunar revolution, Borman asked, "Is Rod Rose there? I have a message for him," and sent the following transmission:

"To Rod Rose and the people of St. Christopher's, actually to people everywhere -

"Give us, O God, the vision which can see thy love in the world in spite of human failure.

"Give us the faith to trust thy goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness.

"Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts.

And show us what each one of us can do to set forward the coming of the day of universal peace. Amen. "

The crew members had consulted other friends about a possible theme for their mission, something to signify one world, something to tell everyone on earth. One suggestion was that they read the story of the Creation in the first 10 verses of the Book of Genesis in the Bible. This they did, during the ninth revolution, closing with "Good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you - all of you on the good earth."

Borman later admitted that he and his crew had not really wanted to carry a television camera; fortunately the decision had not been left to them. Television from the moon had a wide audience. During the flight the crew was told that its shows were being seen all over Europe, even in Moscow and East Berlin; in Japan; in North, Central, and South America; and perhaps in Africa. Lovell, using his optical devices to get a better look, described what was being photographed. Anders raced from window to window for the best vantage points for photographing the lunar surface, especially the areas being considered for landing sites. By the seventh revolution, both of them were so tired that Borman put a stop to the observations. Soon, he knew, they had to start thinking about transearth injection (TEI, another of those important abbreviations) - entrance on the path for homes.

On the tenth lap of the moon, on Christmas morning, 3 days, 17 hours, and 17 seconds after earth launch, the service module engine fired to increase their speed by 1,070 meters per second. Rounding the corner from the back of the moon, Lovell told Mattingly, who had taken over as CapCom for that shift, "Please be informed there is a Santa Claus." In mission control, the holiday became a truly festive occasion. A Christmas tree was placed below the flight status board, which again showed an earth map with red and green lights, the traditional colors of the season. Schmitt, who had coached the crew for its geological observations, read a parody on Clement C. Moore's poem, "T'was the Night before Christmas."

After leaving the moon, the crew was worn out. The astronauts rested, letting "Isaac Newton" do most of the driving. Following their naps, CapCom Carr gave them the latest earth news, with emphasis on the impact their voyage had made on the world. On the whole, Apollo 8's explorations in December 1968 were acclaimed enthusiastically by the multitudes who looked at their world for the first time from thousands of kilometers in space and at their moon from slightly more than a hundred.

The trip back to the earth was uneventful. During the entire trip, CSM-103 registered only such expected irregularities as fogging windows, puddling water, and clattering cabin fans. Now the space-weary travelers could rest, eat, sleep, show television, and enjoy the ride home. Lovell continued his navigational sightings, and flight control did the tracking. Neither could find more than a minor error in the course hours before the scheduled splashdown in the Pacific; one correction (of less than two meters per second) was made. Early Saturday morning, 14,500 kilometers above the earth, the crew fired the pyrotechnics to separate the command module from the service module, which had worked perfectly whenever it was needed. Fifteen minutes later, the spacecraft crossed into the fringes of the atmosphere, 120 kilometers above the earth. Borman told Mattingly they had a real fireball but were in good shape. Spacecraft speed increased to 9,700 meters per second, subjecting the crew to a load of nearly seven g.

The craft flew an entry curve to a point over northeast China, slanted to the southeast, and landed on target in the mid-Pacific. So accurate was the landing that it worried one of the chief mission planners and data watchers in Houston. Bill Tindall wrote to Jerome B. Hammack, head of the Landing and Recovery Division:

"Jerry, I've done a lot of joking about the spacecraft hitting the aircraft carrier, but the more I think about it the less I feel it is a joke. There are reports that the C Prime command module came down right over the aircraft carrier [stationed at 165 degrees 02.1' west longitude and 8 degrees 09.3' north latitude] and drifted on its chutes to land [at 165degrees 1.02' west and 8 degrees 07.5' north, only 4,572 meters] away. This really strikes me as being too close. . . . The consequence of the spacecraft hitting the carrier is truly catastrophic. . . . I seriously recommend relocating the recovery force at least [8 to 16 kilometers] from the target point. "

The craft came down in darkness on Friday, 27 December (6 days, 3 hours, and 42 seconds after launch), flipping over on its nose as it landed. Until Borman punched the button that inflated the air bags to upright the spacecraft, its flashing light beacon was lost to the sight of the recovery helicopters. Mission ground rules required a daylight recovery, so Borman and his crew waited 45 minutes for the swimmers to open the hatches. A few minutes later, the helicopter deposited the crew on the deck of the U.S.S. Yorktown for the last lap of - in Borman's words - "a most fantastic voyage."

Location: Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL.
First Launch: 1968.12.21.
Last Launch: 1968.12.27.
Duration: 6.13 days.

More... - Chronology...


Associated People
  • Borman Borman, Frank Frederick II (1928-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on Gemini 7, Apollo 8. Member of first crew to rendezvous in space, and first to orbit the moon. More...
  • Lovell Lovell, James Arthur Jr 'Shaky' (1928-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on Gemini 7, Gemini 12, Apollo 8, Apollo 13. Member of first crew to rendezvous in space, and first to orbit the moon. Altitude (401,056 km) record. More...
  • Aldrin Aldrin, Edwin Eugene 'Buzz' (1930-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on Gemini 12, Apollo 11. Second person on the moon. More...
  • Armstrong Armstrong, Neil Alden (1930-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on Gemini 8, Apollo 11. First person to step onto the moon. Member of first crew to dock in space. More...
  • Anders Anders, William Alison 'Bill' (1933-) American pilot astronaut. Flew on Apollo 8. Member of first crew to orbit the moon. More...
  • Haise Haise, Fred Wallace Jr 'Pecky' (1933-) American pilot astronaut. Flew on Apollo 13. Survived first emergency beyond low earth orbit. Altitude (401,056 km) record. More...

Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Apollo CSM American manned lunar orbiter. 22 launches, 1964.05.28 (Saturn 6) to 1975.07.15 (Apollo (ASTP)). The Apollo Command Service Module was the spacecraft developed by NASA in the 1960's as a standard spacecraft for earth and lunar orbit missions. More...

See also
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA Houston American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. Houston, Houston, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Apollo The successful US project to land a man on the moon. More...

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...

Apollo 8 Chronology


1965 December 17 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Proposal rejected that the Development Flight Instrumentation (DFI) on Apollo LEM-3 be deleted - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8; Apollo 9. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; LM Weight. Summary: The MSC Systems Development Branch rejected a proposal that the Development Flight Instrumentation (DFI) on LEM-3 be deleted for the following reasons:

    1. LEM-3 would be the first full-weight LEM launched on a Saturn V vehicle. . Additional Details: here....

1966 January 13-20 - .
  • Apollo AS-503 to reduce LEM crewed altitudes - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; LM Crew Station. Mission requirements for AS-503 were reviewed to determine if the LEM test objectives which caused the crew to be in the LEM at high altitudes (3,704 to 12,964 km (2,000 to 7,000 nm)) could be deleted. The reason for keeping the crew out of the LEM at those altitudes was the possibility they might be exposed to a total radiation dose which might prevent them from flying a later lunar mission.

1966 July 1 - .
  • Three additional backup Apollo missions studied - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Kraft. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Director of Flight Operations Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., said that MSC had been directed by NASA OMSF to outline technical problems and both cost and schedule impact of adding three backup Apollo missions to the planned flight schedule. The missions to be evaluated would be AS-207/208 or AS-206/207; AS-503D; and AS-503F. Each of these missions would provide alternate means of obtaining primary program objectives in the event of flight contingencies during tests or of major schedule adjustments. Additional Details: here....

1966 December 5 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Evaluation of recovery areas for Saturn V Apollo missions - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Summary: In response to a request from Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips on November 21, MSC reported its evaluation of Atlantic versus Pacific Ocean prime recovery areas for all Saturn V Apollo missions. . Additional Details: here....

1966 December 22 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Crew selection for the second and third manned Apollo missions - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Anders. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 7; Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo LM. Summary: NASA announced crew selection for the second and third manned Apollo missions. . Additional Details: here....

1966 December 26 - .
  • Extravehicular activity on the Apollo AS-503 mission - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; LM Descent Propulsion; LM ECS; LM Hatch; LM Landing Gear; LM RCS. Donald K. Slayton said there was some question about including extravehicular activity on the AS-503 mission, but he felt that, to make a maximum contribution to the lunar mission, one period of EVA should be included. Slayton pointed out that during the coast period (simulating lunar orbit) in the current flight plan the EVA opportunity appeared best between hour 90 and hour 100. Additional Details: here....

1967 October 28 - .
  • Ground rules for Apollo extravehicular activity - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8; Apollo 9. The following ground rules were established for extravehicular activity planning. The EVA transfer would be demonstrated and thermal-degradation samples retrieved during the AS-503/103/LM-3 (Apollo 8) mission. No other pre-lunar-landing mission would include planned EVA exercises. The first lunar landing mission would be planned with two EVA excursions.

1967 November 15 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Payloads for Apollo AS-503 - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo LM. MSC informed MSFC that it would provide the following payload flight hardware for the AS-503/BP-30 flight test: boilerplate 30 (BP-30, already at MSFC); spacecraft-LM adapter 101 and launch escape system (SLA-101/LES) jettisonable mass simulation; and lunar module test article B (LTA-B, already at MSFC). MSC had no mission requirements but recommended that any restart test requirements for the Saturn S-IVB stage be carried out on this mission to simplify requirements for the first manned Saturn V mission.

1967 December 1 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Plans resulting from Apollo 4 mission - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. NASA Hq. announced that, as concurred in by the Center Apollo Program Managers, the following decisions, based on the results of the Apollo 4 mission, were firmly established:

    • CSM 020 would be flown on the Apollo 6 mission.
    • Boilerplate 30 was assigned to the AS-503 unmanned mission.
    • If Apollo 6 was successful, AS-503 would be flown as the first Saturn V manned mission.

1968 January 9 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Key Apollo program decisions required to certify the Apollo system design summarized - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8; Apollo 7. Spacecraft: Apollo LM. George E. Mueller, NASA OMSF, in a letter to MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth, summarized a number of key Apollo program decisions required in order to emphasize the urgency of priority action in preparations necessary to certify the Apollo system design for manned flight. Additional Details: here....

1968 January 18 - .
  • Contamination of Apollo CM 103's potable water - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Block II. Summary: A meeting was held at MSC to determine necessary action concerning recent contamination of CM 103's potable water, oxygen, and water-glycol lines. . Additional Details: here....

1968 January 26 - .
  • Special Task Team for Apollo CSM 103 - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Block II. Summary: The Special Task Team for CSM 103, appointed January 18, submitted a progress report of activities during daily sessions held January 22 through 25. . Additional Details: here....

1968 April 12 - .
  • Apollo parachute review - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Block II. Summary: A number of decisions were made at the completion of a parachute review at Northrop-Ventura.. Additional Details: here....

1968 August 7 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • George Low promotes idea of flying Apollo 8 as a lunar orbit mission without the Lunar Module - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 7; Apollo 8; Apollo 9. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; Apollo CSM; CSM Block II; LM Guidance; LM RCS. On August 7, Low asked MSC's Director of Flight Operations Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., to look into the feasibility of a lunar orbit mission for Apollo 8 without carrying the LM. A mission with the LM looked as if it might slip until February or March 1969. The following day Low traveled to KSC for an AS-503 review, and from the work schedule it looked like a January 1969 launch. Additional Details: here....

1968 August 8 - .
  • Test and checkout problems for Apollo AS-503 and AS-504 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Debus; Petrone. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8; Apollo 9. ASPO Manager George M. Low and several members of his staff met at KSC with Center Director Kurt H. Debus, Launch Operations Director Rocco A. Petrone, and KSC Apollo Program Manager R. O. Middleton to discuss test and checkout problems for AS-503 and AS-504. Additional Details: here....

1968 August 9 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Senior Apollo porject management backs Apollo 8 lunar mission concept - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun; Low, George. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 7; Apollo 8; Apollo 9. Spacecraft: Apollo LTA; Apollo CSM. Summary: August 9 was probably one of the busiest days in George Low's life; the activities of that and the following days enabled the United States to meet the "in this decade" goal.. Additional Details: here....

1968 August 10 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • North American not enthusiastic about plan to send Apollo 8 to moon. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Low, George. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 7; Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo LTA; Apollo CSM. Summary: More detailed reviews within NASA showed there were still no obvious insurmountable problems that might block the plan. However North American was not too receptive to the idea.. Additional Details: here....

1968 August 12 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Apollo 8 lunar mission scheduled for December 20. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Low, George. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo LTA; Apollo CSM. On August 12 Kraft informed Low that December 20 was the day if they wanted to launch in daylight. With everyone agreeing to a daylight launch, the launch was planned for December 1 with a "built-in hold" until the 20th, which would have the effect of giving assurance of meeting the schedule. LTA (LM test article)-B was considered as a substitute; it had been through a dynamic test vehicle program, and all except Kotanchik agreed this would be a good substitute. Grumman suggested LTA-4 but Low decided on LTA-B.

1968 August 13 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Borman crew selected for Apollo 8 lunar mission. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Low, George; Borman. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8; Apollo 9. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM. Kleinknecht had concluded his CSM 103-106 configuration study by August 13 and determined the high-gain antenna was the most critical item. Kraft was still "GO" and said December 20-26 (except December 25) offered best launch times; he had also looked at January launch possibilities. Slayton had decided to assign the 104 crew to the mission. He had talked to crew commander Frank Borman and Borman was interested.

1968 August 14 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • During a key meeting of Apollo senior figures - top NASA management first approached regarding an Apollo 8 lunar mission in December - reaction: negative. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun; Low, George; Debus. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM. Participants in the August 14 meeting in Washington were Low, Gilruth, Kraft, and Slayton from MSC; von Braun, James, and Richard from MSFC; Debus and Petrone from KSC; and Deputy Administrator Thomas Paine, William Schneider, Julian Bowman, Phillips, and Hage from NASA Hq. Low reviewed the spacecraft aspects; Kraft, flight operations; and Slayton, flight crew support. MSFC had agreed on the LTA-B as the substitute and were still ready to go; and KSC said they would be ready by December 6. Additional Details: here....

1968 August 15 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Webb briefed on Apollo 8 lunar mission concept. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Phillips, Samuel; Low, George; Webb; Paine. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 7; Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM. Phillips and Paine discussed the plan with Webb in Vienna. Webb wanted to think about it, and requested further information by diplomatic carrier. That same day Phillips called Low and informed him that Mueller had agreed to the plan with the provisions that no full announcement would be made until after the Apollo 7 flight; that it could be announced that 503 would be manned and possible missions were being studied; and that an internal document could be prepared for a planned lunar orbit for December.

1968 August 16 - .
  • Launch preparations for the Apollo 7 - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 7; Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; CSM Block II. NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller reported to his superiors that launch preparations for the Apollo 7 mission were running ahead of schedule. Spacecraft 101 had been erected and mated with the launch vehicle on August 9. Additional Details: here....

1968 August 17 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Webb approves Apollo 8 lunar orbit mission for December - but no public announcement until after a successful Apollo 7 flight. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Webb; Low, George. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 7; Apollo 8; Apollo 9. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM. Phillips and Hage visited MSC, bringing the news that Webb had given clear-cut authority to prepare for a December 6 launch, but that they could not proceed with clearance for lunar orbit until after the Apollo 7 flight, which would be an earth-orbital mission with basic objectives of proving the CSM and Saturn V systems. Phillips said that Webb had been "shocked and fairly negative" when he talked to him about the plan on August 15. Subsequently, Paine and Phillips sent Webb a lengthy discourse on why the mission should be changed, and it was felt he would change his mind with a successful Apollo 7 mission.

1968 August 19 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Changes in planning for Apollo flights - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Borman; Lovell; Anders. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; Apollo Lunar Landing; CSM SPS. In a Mission Preparation Directive sent to the three manned space flight Centers, NASA Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips stated that the following changes would be effected in planning and preparation for Apollo flights:

    Apollo-Saturn 503
    • Assignment of Saturn V 503, CSM 103, and LM-3 to Mission D was canceled.

    • Saturn V 503 would be prepared to carry CSM 103 and LTA (LM test article)-B on a manned CSM-only mission to be designated the C prime mission.

    • The objectives and profile of the C prime mission would be developed to provide maximum gain consistent with standing flight safety requirements. Studies would be carried out and plans prepared so as to provide reasonable flexibility in establishing final mission objectives.

    • All planning and preparations for the C prime mission would proceed toward launch readiness on December 6, 1968.
    Apollo-Saturn 504
    Saturn V 504, CSM 104, and LM-3 were assigned to the D mission, scheduled for launch readiness no earlier than February 20, 1969. The crew assigned to the D mission would remain assigned to that mission. The crew assigned to the E mission (Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr., and William Anders) would be reassigned to the C prime mission. Training and equipping the C prime crews and operational preparations would proceed as required to meet mission requirements and to meet the newly established flight readiness date.
    Additional Details: here....

1968 August 26 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Payload weight of 39.78 tonnes for Apollo AS-503 - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; LM Weight. ASPO Manager George M. Low asked Joseph N. Kotanchik, head of the Structures and Mechanics Division, to verify that all spacecraft load analyses and safety factors were compatible with the recently agreed-on payload weight of 39,780 kilograms for the AS-503 mission. Additional Details: here....

1968 August 27 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Decision to use Apollo LTA-B as payload ballast on the AS-503 flight - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Low, George. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo LTA; LM Weight. George M. Low, ASPO Manager, set forth the rationale for using LTA-B (as opposed to some other LM test article or even a full-blown LM) as payload ballast on the AS-503 mission. That decision had been a joint one by Headquarters, MSFC, and MSC. Perhaps the chief reason for the decision was Marshall's position that the Saturn V's control system was extremely sensitive to payload weight. Numerous tests had been made for payloads of around 38,555 kilograms but none for those in the 29,435- to 31,750-kilogram range. MSFC had therefore asked that the minimum payload for AS-503 be set at 38,555 kilograms. Additional Details: here....

1968 September 3 - .
  • Apollo 8 launch readiness date changed to December 13, 1968 - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Summary: Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips notified the three manned space flight Centers that the Apollo 8 launch readiness working-schedule date had been changed to December 13, 1968..

1968 September 10-11 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • The Apollo Crew Safety Review Board - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Summary: The Apollo Crew Safety Review Board, headed by William C. Schneider, met for the third time at MSFC, a meeting devoted primarily to safety factors for the Saturn V launch vehicle. . Additional Details: here....

1968 September 30 - .
  • Launch preparation for Apollo 7 and 8 - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 7; Apollo 8. Summary: NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller summarized for his superiors launch preparation for the near-term missions Apollo 7 and Apollo 8.. Additional Details: here....

1968 October 7 - .
  • Soviets consider Apollo 8 has no chance of success - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Tyulin. Program: Apollo; Lunar L1. Flight: Apollo 8. Tyulin is still complaining that the VVS never signed the L1 design specification. But the crews are ready for flight. The flight of Apollo 8 to the moon is announced. Kamanin considers this an adventure with no chance of success. After all, there have been only two Saturn V launches, the last one a partial failure. The US has never flown a crew to escape velocity or lunar distance. The whole thing is a risky, unsafe adventure.

1968 October 7 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Apollo 8 CSM installed atop the Saturn V - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Block II. In preparation for the flight of Apollo 8, NASA and industry technicians at KSC placed CSM 103 atop the Saturn V launch vehicle. The launch escape system was installed the following day; and on October 9 the complete AS-503 space vehicle was rolled out of the Vehicle Assembly Building and moved to the launch pad, where launch preparations were resumed.

1968 October 10 - .
  • Revised policies and procedures for control of changes for Apollo AS-503 and subsequent missions - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Summary: Because of the continuing problem of hardware changes, Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips revised policies and procedures for control of changes for AS-503 and subsequent missions. . Additional Details: here....

1968 October 16 - . LV Family: Saturn I; Saturn V.
  • Saturn IB program placed in a standby status - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Phillips, Samuel. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips ordered that the Saturn IB program be placed in a standby status pending any future requirements for Apollo or the Apollo Applications program. Phillips' action signaled the shift in Apollo to the Saturn V vehicle, effective with AS-503.

1968 October 21 - .
  • Launch preparations for Apollo 8 and 9 - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8; Apollo 9. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; CSM Block II. Summary: Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller summarized launch preparations for the near-term missions Apollo 8 and Apollo 9. . Additional Details: here....

1968 October 24 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Retesting Saturn V following a lightning strike - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Summary: Howard D. Burns, Chief of the Saturn V Test Management Office at MSFC, sent to Apollo launch operations officials at KSC a list of requirements for retesting the Saturn V following a lightning strike on the vehicle while on the pad.. Additional Details: here....

1968 October 28 - .
  • No static-firing of the Apollo 8 reaction control system on the pad - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 7; Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Block II. Summary: MSC Apollo Spacecraft Program Office Manager George M. Low deleted the requirement for a short static-firing of the Apollo 8 service module reaction control system on the pad before launch (the so-called "burp" firing). . Additional Details: here....

1968 November 8 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Proper spacecraft deployment during the Apollo 8 flight - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Petrone. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 7; Apollo 8. Spacecraft: ; CSM Electrical. Summary: ASPO Manager George M. Low asked Rocco A. Petrone, Launch Operations Director at KSC, to set up a special task team to review all paperwork and to inspect visually all hardware, to ensure proper spacecraft deployment during the Apollo 8 flight. . Additional Details: here....

1968 November 10 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Success of Apollo 7 clears way for Apollo 8 lunar orbit mission in December. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Low, George. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 7; Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; Apollo LTA. Apollo 7 - flown October 11-22 - far exceeded Low's expectations in results and left no doubts that they should go for lunar orbit on Apollo 8. At the November 10 Apollo Executive meeting Phillips presented a summary of the activities; James gave the launch vehicle status; Low reported on the spacecraft status and said he was impressed with the way KSC had handled its tight checkout schedule; Slayton reported on the flight plan; and Petrone on checkout readiness. Petrone said KSC could launch as early as December 10 or 12. Phillips said he would recommend to the Management Council the next day for Apollo 8 to go lunar orbit. Additional Details: here....

1968 November 11 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Paine gives Apollo 8 go-ahead for lunar orbit mission. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Paine; Low, George. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo LTA; Apollo CSM. Summary: Low's initiative had paid off; the final decision to go to the moon in 1968 was made with the blessings of all of NASA's decision-makers, the Apollo Executive Committee, STAC, and PSAC..

1968 November 12 - .
1968 November 22 - .
  • Development of the Apollo SPS engine reviewed - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Paine. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Summary: NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller reviewed for NASA Acting Administrator Thomas O. Paine the development of the Apollo service propulsion system (SPS) engine. . Additional Details: here....

1968 November 26 - .
  • Soviet Union needs a manned L1 to fly in the 8 to 12 December lunar launch window in order to beat Apollo 8. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Beregovoi. Program: Lunar L1; Lunar L3. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Soyuz 7K-L1; Soyuz 7K-OK; LK. The primary issue in the next 3 to 4 months will be how to answer the impending American Apollo 8 flight. The Soviet Union needs to fly a manned L1 in the 8 to 12 December lunar launch window. But the spacecraft is still considered too unsafe for manned flight. The Apollo 8 mission is risky, but the US can't fly the Apollo spacecraft to the moon unmanned...

    Beregovoi is to be named commander of the Gagarin Centre. Gagarin himself was being prepared for the job, but his death in a plane crash ended that plan. The other cosmonauts are not ready for command. The centre desperately needs the two planned L3 trainers: the TBK-150 and Volchuk. Kamanin has been jerked around for four months on the issue. Even if the simulators were delivered, he would still need 2 million roubles and an additional 30 to 40 staff to install and operate them.


1968 December 4 - .
  • Soviets judge that Apollo 8 has only a 25% chance of success. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Johnson, Lyndon. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8; Soyuz 7K-L1 mission 1. The State Commission investigating Gagarin's crash publishes it report. It found that pilot error put the aircraft into a critical situation. Kamanin judges that the Apollo 8 mission is only being flown to give US President Lyndon Johnson a triumph before he leaves office. He judges the mission has only a 25% chance of success.

1968 December 9 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Launch preparations for Apollo 8 - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM SPS. Summary: Launch preparations for Apollo 8, scheduled for flight December 21, were on schedule, the NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight reported. . Additional Details: here....

1968 December 13 - .
  • Soviets ponder Apollo 8 - . Nation: USSR. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo LLRV. Articles appear in the Soviet newspapers explaining the risky nature of the Apollo 8 flight. Meanwhile an LLRV lunar landing trainer has crashed in America - Kamanin notes this is the second loss of an American 'lunar module'. The Apollo 8 flight has been delayed from 18 to 21 December due to engine problems.

    Kamanin reviews the organisational structure of the NII-TsPK Gagarin Centre. There is a commander, three deputies, 700 staff, and 12 MiG-21's for flight training (8 single-seat combat aircraft and four two-seat trainers). There are three training tracks for the cosmonauts: Orbital, Lunar, and Military.


1968 December 15 - .
  • Final countdown for the launch of Apollo 8 - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8; Apollo 9. Final countdown for the launch of Apollo 8, the second manned Apollo mission, began on schedule at KSC. Significant launch preparation events included the "wet" countdown demonstration test on December 10, three days of flight simulations, an operational review, and launch site recovery exercises. Mission preparations were on schedule for launch on December 21. Launch preparations were also on schedule for the next two flights, Apollo 9 and 10.

1968 December 19 - .
  • Crew briefings on Apollo flammability tests and fire extinguishing methods expanded - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Summary: Crew briefings on flammability tests and fire extinguishing methods should be expanded, ASPO Manager Low recommended to MSC Director of Flight Operations Donald K. Slayton. . Additional Details: here....

1968 December 21 - . 12:51 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39A. LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V. LV Configuration: Saturn V SA-503.
  • Apollo 8 - . Call Sign: Apollo 8. Crew: Anders; Borman; Lovell. Backup Crew: Aldrin; Armstrong; Haise. Payload: Apollo CSM 103 / LTA-B / S-IVB-503N. Mass: 28,833 kg (63,565 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Anders; Borman; Lovell; Aldrin; Armstrong; Haise. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: Apollo. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar spacecraft. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM. Duration: 6.13 days. Decay Date: 1968-12-27 . USAF Sat Cat: 3626 . COSPAR: 1968-118A. Apogee: 185 km (114 mi). Perigee: 185 km (114 mi). Inclination: 32.5000 deg. Period: 88.19 min. Apollo 8 (AS-503) was launched from KSC Launch Complex 39, Pad A, at 7:51 a.m. EST Dec. 21 on a Saturn V booster. The spacecraft crew was made up of Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr., and William A. Anders. Apollo 8 was the first spacecraft to be launched by a Saturn V with a crew on board, and that crew became the first men to fly around the moon.

    All launch and boost phases were normal and the spacecraft with the S-IVB stage was inserted into an earth-parking orbit of 190.6 by 183.2 kilometers above the earth. After post-insertion checkout of spacecraft systems, the S-IVB stage was reignited and burned 5 minutes 9 seconds to place the spacecraft and stage in a trajectory toward the moon - and the Apollo 8 crew became the first men to leave the earth's gravitational field.

    The spacecraft separated from the S-IVB 3 hours 20 minutes after launch and made two separation maneuvers using the SM's reaction control system. Eleven hours after liftoff, the first midcourse correction increased velocity by 26.4 kilometers per hour. The coast phase was devoted to navigation sightings, two television transmissions, and system checks. The second midcourse correction, about 61 hours into the flight, changed velocity by 1.5 kilometers per hour.

    The 4-minute 15-second lunar-orbit-insertion maneuver was made 69 hours after launch, placing the spacecraft in an initial lunar orbit of 310.6 by 111.2 kilometers from the moon's surface - later circularized to 112.4 by 110.6 kilometers. During the lunar coast phase the crew made numerous landing-site and landmark sightings, took lunar photos, and prepared for the later maneuver to enter the trajectory back to the earth.

    On the fourth day, Christmas Eve, communications were interrupted as Apollo 8 passed behind the moon, and the astronauts became the first men to see the moon's far side. Later that day , during the evening hours in the United States, the crew read the first 10 verses of Genesis on television to earth and wished viewers "goodnight, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you - all of you on the good earth."

    Subsequently, TV Guide for May 10-16, 1969, claimed that one out of every four persons on earth - nearly 1 billion people in 64 countries - heard the astronauts' reading and greeting, either on radio or on TV; and delayed broadcasts that same day reached 30 additional countries.

    On Christmas Day, while the spacecraft was completing its 10th revolution of the moon, the service propulsion system engine was fired for three minutes 24 seconds, increasing the velocity by 3,875 km per hr and propelling Apollo 8 back toward the earth, after 20 hours 11 minutes in lunar orbit. More television was sent to earth on the way back.


1968 December 22 - . LV Family: N1; Saturn V.
  • Soviet reaction to Apollo 8 - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Khrushchev; Ustinov; Smirnov; Pashkov. Program: Lunar L1; Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8; Voskhod 3. Apollo 8 has been launched. Kamanin recalls that he first saw a model of the Saturn V during his visit to Washington DC with Titov in 1962. At that time the Soviet Union planned to fly the N1 in four years, but the only manned spacecraft on the drawing boards after Voskhod was the Sever. Khrushchev didn't give a go-ahead for the lunar program until 1964. In the gap between Voskhod and Soyuz flights, when the American Gemini program seized the lead, the USSR could have achieved a record by flying Volynov for 18 days in Voskhod 3. But this was cancelled at the last minute by the leadership because the Voskhod had 'no development potential'. Ustinov, Smirnov, Pashkov were responsible for this decision, which put the USSR permanently behind in the space race.

1968 December 23 - . LV Family: N1. Launch Vehicle: N1.
1968 December 24 - .
  • Cosmonauts ponder loss of the moon race - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Ustinov; Shatalov; Shonin; Khrunov; Yeliseyev; Volynov. Program: Apollo; Lunar L1. Flight: Apollo 8. The Soyuz 4 and 5 crews arrive at Tyuratam aboard an An-24. They work with their spacesuits at Area 31 until 23:00. On the bus back to the sleeping quarters Kamanin tells them of Ustinov's 'recommendation' that they do an automatic docking. They are against it, argue for a manual docking. If allowing enough time for the crew of the active spacecraft to adapt to zero-G is the issue, they propose switching the launch order of the active and passive spacecraft. This alternative is ruled out - it is too late and risky to modify the flight programs. Shatalov bursts out - 'Here we are debating this for the tenth time, while he Americans are orbiting the moon'. They call for the bus to stop. They exit out into the icy clear night and look at the moon. Thoughts came of the nine comrades who had died trying to put the USSR first to the moon, all to no avail.

1968 December 26 - .
  • Heated arguments over technical approach of Soviet space systems - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Shatalov; Beregovoi; Severin; Mnatsakanian; Mishin. Program: Lunar L1; Soyuz; Almaz. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Soyuz 7K-OK; Soyuz 7K-L1; Soyuz 7K-LOK; Soyuz 7K-S; Almaz OPS; Soyuz OB-VI; Soyuz VI. The training for the Soyuz 4 and 5 flights was completed last night. Today the crews undergo medical tests and start preparation of their flight logs/flight plans. On the return flight to Moscow Shatalov, Beregovoi, Severin, Kamanin, and Mnatsakanian get into a heated argument. The cosmonauts attack Mnatsakanian's Igla automated docking system. It limits docking manoeuvres to periods when the spacecraft are flying over the Soviet Union due to the requirement for ground stations to receive live television. The Americans worked only on the Apollo spacecraft for the last two to three years, while the Soviets have divided their efforts on no less than five spacecraft types: the L1, L3, Soyuz, Soyuz VI, and Almaz. This is all Mishin's fault...

1968 December 27 - .
  • Americans win the race to be first around the moon - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Vershinin; Mishin; Tyulin; Bushuyev. Program: Apollo; Lunar L1. Flight: Apollo 8; Soyuz 7K-L1 mission 1; Soyuz 7K-L1 mission 2; Soyuz 7K-L1 mission 3. The General Staff considers the impending Soyuz 4 and 5 flights. Vershinin asks - what is the likelihood of Apollo 8 being successful? Kamanin tells him it is very good now; the final midcourse correction was made successfully. A State Commission convenes to consider the Zond 6 failure. Mishin and Tyulin do not attend - they send Bushuyev to represent them. It has been found that 70 km from the cosmodrome, as the spacecraft deployed its parachute, the parachute lines were pyrotechnically severed at 3 km altitude and the capsule crashed into the plain. This in turn was found to be due to an ONA landing antenna failure; and this in turn caused by the SUS going down to temperatures of -5 deg C during the flight and the depressurisation of the cabin. The hydrogen peroxide, due to the low temperature, put the spcecraft at a 45 degree attitude instead of the 18 degree maximum (?). There are five L1's left. Number 13 is at Tyuratam begin prepared for an unmanned flight due for launch on 20 or 21 January, number 11 is being readied for a March 1969 manned launch, to be followed by numbers 14, 15, and 16 in April, May, June. At 19:15 the successful splashdown of Apollo 8 is reported. The race to be first around the moon is over.

1968 December 27 - .
  • Apollo 8 and L1 plans - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Mishin. Program: Lunar L1. Flight: Apollo 8. Spacecraft: Soyuz 7K-L1. A State Commission investigating the crash of Zond 6 determined that the coronal discharge effect which caused the parachute to jettison would only occur at the 25 mm capsule pressure. If the capsule had been completely depressurised to a high vacuum, the accident would not have occurred. A discussion was conducted on when to conduct the next L1 test. The next capsule in line was s/n 13 - an unlucky omen. It was even proposed not to fly the capsule with such an unlucky number. That evening, the Soviet engineers could watch live video from the moon from aboard Apollo 8 via Eurovision from Western Europe. They had in any case lost the race to fly a man around the moon. The flight of further L1's, and sending a Soviet man on a lunar flyby, seemed a moot point.

1968 December 27 - .
  • Landing of Apollo 8 - . Return Crew: Anders; Borman; Lovell. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Anders; Borman; Lovell. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. On the sixth day, the crew prepared for reentry and the SM separated from the CM on schedule. Parachute deployment and other re-entry events were normal. The Apollo 8 CM splashed down in the Pacific, apex down, at 15:51 GMT - 147 hours and 42 seconds after liftoff. As planned, helicopters and aircraft hovered over the spacecraft and pararescue personnel were not deployed until local sunrise, 50 minutes after splashdown. The crew was picked up and reached the recovery ship U.S.S. Yorktown at 17:20 GMT. All mission objectives and detailed test objectives were achieved, as well as five that were not originally planned.

    The crew was in excellent condition, and another major step toward the first lunar landing had been accomplished.


1968 December 28 - .
  • Soviet space cadres stand down after Apollo 8 success - . Nation: USSR. Program: Apollo; Lunar L1. Flight: Apollo 8. Two to three days rest for the demoralised cadres is declared, before renewing anew the assault on the cosmos in January. Kamanin muses that some day Communism will be on all of the planets of the solar system, and men will travel in fully automated spacecraft. But full automation is the wrong approach now.

1969 January 19-22 - .
  • Apollo 9 flight readiness test - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 9; Apollo 8. The Apollo 9 flight readiness test began on January 19 and was successfully completed January 22, in preparation for a February launch. A one-day delay in the testing was caused by a loss of air conditioning for the RCA-110A computer. The hatch and side windows of the spacecraft were being modified to overcome the fogging effect experienced during the Apollo 8 mission.

1969 January 22 - .
  • American looks likely to win moon race - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Smirnov; Ustinov; Mishin; Gagarin; Korolev; Khrunov; Volynov; Yeliseyev; Shatalov. Program: Soyuz. Flight: Soyuz 4; Soyuz 5; Soyuz 4/5; Apollo 8. Kamanin and four cosmonauts return to Moscow from Tyuratam aboard an Il-18. It has been nearly nine years since Gagarin's flight, and now America looks like the winner of the space race, with the successful flight of Apollo 8 around the moon. Kamanin attributes the loss to the mistakes made by Ustinov and Smirnov in the erratic management of the Soviet program, coupled with the insistence of Korolev and Mishin to develop completely automated spacecraft that do not require intervention by the cosmonaut.

1969 February 8 - .
  • Spacecraft hoisting loop failed on Apollo 8 - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 8. Summary: The permanently mounted spacecraft hoisting loop was inadequate for expected spacecraft loads and had failed on Apollo 8, ASPO Manager George M. Low informed Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips. . Additional Details: here....

1969 March 29 - .
  • Apollo films on view in Soviet Union - . Nation: USSR. Program: Lunar L3. Flight: Apollo 8; Apollo 9. Summary: VVS General Staff views US documentaries on Apollo 8 and 9, and footage from the 1968 Turin Air Show..

1969 July 5 - .
  • Borman tours the officer's quarters at the Gagarin Centre. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Titov; Borman; Tereshkova; Shatalov; Beregovoi; Popovich; Volynov. Flight: Apollo 8; Soyuz 4/5. On the key day of his visit to Russia, Tereshkova shows Mrs Borman around, while Shatalov accompanies Mr Borman. Borman shows the cosmonauts a film on his Apollo 8 mission and answers questions. Then the Soviets show him exce3rpts from the films 'Road to Space' (on the Gagarin mission) and 'Four in Space' (on the Soyuz 4/5 mission). Beregovoi gives the Bormans a model of the Vostok, Popovich a photo album, and Titov guides them through the museum. In the evening twenty attend a dinner where toasts are exchanged in the Russian manner. Borman and Volynov exchange wristwatches. Borman presented Titov with the watch he received from President Johnson after the Gemini 7 mission - it is to be put in the museum. Eight hours are spent in total at Star City. Kamanin finds Borman to be disciplined and precise. He is at the same time a skilled orator, diplomat, and born politician.

1969 September 23 - .
  • Guinness records for Apollo 8 and Apollo 11 - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 11; Apollo 8. In response to a query from Guinness Superlatives, London, as to the maximum distance from the earth reached by Apollo 8 and Apollo 11, MSC said the maximum distance for Apollo 8 was 377,348.704 kilometers, during the 10th lunar revolution. Additional Details: here....

1998 April 5 - .
  • From the Earth to the Moon is released. - . Nation: USA. Flight: Apollo 7; Apollo 8; Apollo 9; Apollo 11; Apollo 12; Apollo 13; Apollo 14; Apollo 15; Apollo 17. Based on the success of the film Apollo 13, Tom Hanks was able to raise $ 68 million to film a television mini-series covering the entire Apollo program. The Apollo 13 episode marked the third fictionalised telling of the tale, this time concentrating on the media handling of the flight and the changing nature of television news. Additional Details: here....

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