Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

William Anders, a retired astronaut and one of the first to orbit the moon, died at the age of 90 after a small plane crashed in Washington state.

Anders gained wide fame after taking the famous “Earthrise” photo during NASA’s Apollo 8 mission in 1968.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson praised Anders on social media, recalling the iconic photo he took that shows the Earth rising above the horizon of the moon, and stating that he “gave humanity a precious gift as one of the first astronauts.”

The Seattle Times reported, citing Anders’ son, Greg, that he was flying the plane alone when it crashed near the coast of Jones Island, part of the San Juan Islands archipelago north of Seattle between Washington and Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

According to KCPQ, the Fox affiliate in Tacoma, Anders was flying an old single-engine T-34 Mentor Air Force plane, and video footage shown by the channel showed the plane landing sharply before crashing into the waters off the coast.

Anders, a graduate of the US Naval Academy and former Air Force pilot, joined NASA in 1963 as a member of the third group of astronauts.

He did not make his first space flight until December 21, 1968, when the Apollo 8 mission was launched on the first manned mission to leave Earth’s orbit and go to the moon, covering a distance of 386 thousand kilometers.

The Apollo 8 mission aimed to test the process of entering a transitional orbit towards the Moon, in addition to the navigation system for the command and service module, communications and path corrections, consumption evaluation, and static thermal control.

Apollo 8 was launched on December 21, 1968, by a Saturn 5 rocket, carrying astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders. Four days later, Apollo 8 entered orbit around the moon. The astronauts were the first humans to fly and orbit around the moon, and the first to see the back side. Far from the moon directly.

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