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Published on May 16, 2008
Apollo 8 was the first manned voyage to a celestial body.
Its three-man crew of Mission Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders became the first humans to see the far side of the Moon.
The mission also involved the first manned launch of a Saturn V rocket, and was the second manned mission of the Apollo programme.
Originally planned as a low-Earth orbit Lunar Module/Command Module test, the mission profile was changed to the more ambitious lunar orbital flight in August 1968 when the Lunar Module scheduled for the flight became delayed. The new mission's profile, procedures and personnel requirements left an uncharacteristically short time-frame for training and preparation.
After launching on 21 December 1968, the crew took three days to travel to the Moon. They orbited ten times over the course of 20 hours, during which the crew made a Christmas Eve television broadcast in which they read from the Book of Genesis. At the time, the broadcast was the most watched TV programme ever. Apollo 8's successful mission paved the way for Apollo 11 to fulfill U.S. President John F. Kennedy's goal of landing a man on the Moon before the end of the decade.