Dec. 24, 1968: Apollo 8 Christmas Eve broadcast

On Christmas Eve 1968, scientist-astronaut Jack Schmitt radioed three colleagues aboard a manned mission to the moon.

“T’was the night before Christmas and way out in space, the Apollo 8 had just won the moon race,” he said.

Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders had become the first men to orbit the moon.

A 45-year-old copy of The Herald detailed the historic moment.

The astronauts radioed home as they blasted out of orbit around the vast and lonely expanse and made their way back to the inviting planet they called “good Earth” in time for belated Christmas celebrations with their families.

The article relays the exchange between Lovell, who piloted the spacecraft, and his wife, Marilyn.

“Please be informed there is a Santa Claus,” came Lovell’s jubilant confirmation to earth that Apollo 8’s trusty rocket engine worked, and tore the spacecraft from the grip of the moon and started it on its dash to earth.

In a Christmas message relayed to the astronauts nine hours after the crucial breakaway maneuver, Marilyn Lovell told her husband, “Your presents are waiting and roast beef and Yorkshire pudding will be on the table when you get home.”

In return, Lovell had a mink coat delivered to his wife today, wrapped in a box bearing the figure eight insignia of Apollo 8. Mrs. Lovell, saying it was her “happiest Christmas” told reporters the coat came “from the man in the moon.”

Standing near part of the spacecraft, Lovell, now 85, read Monday from the historic Christmas Eve broadcast.

From the Associated Press:

Lovell marked the 45th anniversary of the orbit and the famous broadcast a day early with a re-enactment of sorts at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

“The idea of bringing people together by a flight to the moon where we encompassed everybody in our thoughts is still very valid today,” Lovell said. “The words that we read are very appropriate.”

The original broadcast:

Lovell marked the 45th anniversary of the orbit and the famous broadcast a day early with a re-enactment of sorts at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.”The idea of bringing people together by a flight to the moon where we encompassed everybody in our thoughts is still very valid today,” Lovell said. “The words that we read are very appropriate.” – See more at: http://dhedit.sx.atl.publicus.com/article/20131223/NEWS02/712239930&NoCache=1#sthash.TWT6uMqh.dpuf

NASA released last week a video recreation of the moment when the Apollo 8 astronauts first saw Earth as pictured in the Earthrise photo.

Read more from the Christmas 1968 issue of The Herald in our collection of historic front pages.

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