APOLLO 8 commander Frank Borman, who led the first manned mission to orbit the moon, has died at the age of 95.
Borman, who circled the moon 10 times in 1968, died on Tuesday in Billings, Montana, NASA confirmed.
The astronaut, 95, was best known for his time at Nasa where he and his team were the first people to see the Earth from a distance.
“Today we remember one of NASA’s best. Astronaut Frank Borman was a true American hero,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement Thursday.
“His lifelong love for aviation and exploration was only surpassed by his love for his wife Susan.”
Borman, who had a long and impressive flight career is also known for leading Eastern Airlines in the 1970s and early ‘80s.
Apollo 8 spent three days traveling the moon, going into the moon's orbit on Christmas Eve in 1968.
The astronauts brought in the holidays by reading the Book of Genesis in a live telecast from space: “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.”
Borman ended the broadcast with, “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.”
In his book, “Countdown: An Autobiography,” Borman revealed that Apollo 8 was originally supposed to orbit Earth.
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However, the successful Apollo 7’s mission in October 1968, led to Nasa realizing that long flights can be safe for the crew.
He also revealed that the space race with Russia also influenced the space shuttle orbiting the moon.
“My main concern in this whole flight was to get there ahead of the Russians and get home. That was a significant achievement in my eyes,” Borman explained at a Chicago appearance in 2017.
During the crew’s fourth orbit, the iconic “Earthrise” photo was taken, making history as the first colored photo seen from space.
Borman wrote about how the Earth looked from afar: “We were the first humans to see the world in its majestic totality, an intensely emotional experience for each of us.
"We said nothing to each other, but I was sure our thoughts were identical — of our families on that spinning globe. And maybe we shared another thought I had, This must be what God sees.”
In the 1970s, Borman ventured into business joining the United States' fourth-largest airline, East Airlines.
He would eventually become the president and CEO in 1976.
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