“Apollo 8 Astronaut William Anders, Known for Iconic ‘Earthrise’ Photo,dies in Plane Crash”

William Anders, Apollo 8 Astronaut Known for 'Earthrise' Photo, Dies in Plane Crash

Retired astronaut William Anders, renowned for being one of the first three humans to orbit the moon and capturing the iconic “Earthrise” photograph during NASA’s Apollo 8 mission, tragically passed away on Friday. The 90-year-old Anders was piloting a small plane that crashed off the coast of Jones Island in Washington state.

Anders’ son, Greg, confirmed that he was the sole occupant of the aircraft at the time of the crash. The incident occurred near the San Juan Islands archipelago, situated between Washington and Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Video footage of the crash showed Anders’ vintage Air Force single-engine T-34 Mentor descending in a steep dive before hitting the water just offshore. Authorities from the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office have not yet responded to requests for official confirmation.

A graduate of the US Naval Academy and a former Air Force pilot, Anders joined NASA in 1963 as part of the third group of astronauts. His space journey culminated in the historic Apollo 8 mission on December 21, 1968, marking humanity’s first crewed voyage beyond Earth’s orbit to reach the moon.

During the Apollo 8 mission, Anders, alongside Frank Borman and James Lovell, captured the Earthrise photograph, depicting Earth rising above the lunar horizon, which became an iconic symbol of humanity’s exploration of space. The crew also made history by transmitting images of the lunar surface back to Earth while reading from the Book of Genesis on Christmas Eve.

The successful Apollo 8 mission, expedited due to concerns about Soviet progress in space exploration, boosted morale during a challenging period in American history, including the Vietnam War and domestic unrest. Anders and his crewmates were celebrated as national heroes upon their return to Earth and were named Time magazine’s “Men of the Year.”

The legacy of Apollo 8 paved the way for subsequent moon landings, solidifying American triumph in the Cold War space race. However, Anders’ untimely death marks the end of an era for space exploration and serves as a reminder of the risks inherent in pioneering endeavors.

Sources By Agencies

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