APOLLO 8 commander Frank Borman, who led the first manned mission to orbit the moon, has died aged 95.
Borman, who orbited the moon 10 times in 1968, died Tuesday in Billings, Montana, NASA confirmed.
The 95-year-old astronaut was best known for his time at NASA, where he and his team were the first people to see 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 of aviation and exploration was surpassed only by his love for his wife, Susan.”
Borman was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force in 1950. Later that same year, he married his wife, Susan Bugbee Borman.
The American icon spent time caring for Susan after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s before she died in September 2021.
Despite his decades-long career, he insisted that his marriage was better than any trip to space.
“The best thing that ever happened to me was not going to the moon or flying a particular plane, but finding the right mate and the most wonderful woman ever invented,” Borman said in a 2017 interview.
Apollo 8 traveled around the moon for three days and reached lunar orbit on Christmas Eve 1968.
The astronauts rang in the holiday by reading the Book of Genesis in a live broadcast from space: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was desolate and empty; and darkness lay 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, Merry Christmas and God bless you all – all of you on the good earth.”
In his book Countdown: An Autobiography, Borman revealed that Apollo 8 was originally intended to orbit the Earth.
However, the successful Apollo 7 mission in October 1968 led NASA to realize that long flights could be safe for the crew.
He also revealed that the space race with Russia also affected the space shuttle orbiting the moon.
“My main concern throughout the flight was to arrive before the Russians and get home. “That was a significant achievement in my eyes,” Borman said during an appearance in Chicago in 2017.
During the crew’s fourth orbit, the iconic “Rising of the Earth” The photo was taken and went down in history as the first color photo from space.
Borman wrote about what the Earth looked like from a distance: “We were the first people to see the world in its majestic entirety, an extremely emotional experience for each of us.”
“We said nothing to each other, but I was sure our thoughts were the same – of our families on this spinning globe. And perhaps we shared another thought I had: This must be what God sees.”
In the 1970s, Borman ventured into business and joined the fourth largest airline in the United States, East Airlines.
He eventually became president and CEO in 1976.
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