William Alison Anders (born October 17, 1933) was a former American astronaut. He flew as Lunar Module Pilot for the Apollo 8 mission (although no lunar module was carried by the mission), the first mission where humans traveled beyond Low Earth orbit. This was the first crewed flight to reach and orbit the Moon. During one of the mission's lunar orbits he photographed the iconic image, Earthrise.
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William A. Anders Oral History (1997)
- NASA Johnson Space Center Oral History Project. Edited and approved by William Anders Oral History Transcript. Interviewed by Paul Rollins Houston, Texas, 8 October 1997
- I thought the American public was supporting Apollo not because they wanted science or even because they wanted exploration, they wanted to show those “dirty commies” that America [was still #1 technologically].
- We had simulated essentially everything we could think of or anything anybody could think of on that flight, all previous flights, and in centrifuges, in zero G airplanes, and procedure trainers and that kind of stuff. And yet the very first seconds of the flight were a total surprise to everybody because the Saturn V which is a big tall rocket, kind of skinny, more like a whip antenna on your automobile, [and we were] like a bug on the end of a whip…
- But, the most impressive aspect of the flight was [when] we were in lunar orbit. We’d been going backwards and upside down, didn’t really see the Earth or the Sun, and when we rolled around and came around and saw the first Earth rise. [T]hat certainly was, by far, the most impressive thing. To see this very delicate, colorful orb which to me looked like a Christmas tree ornament coming up over this very stark, ugly lunar landscape really contrasted...
- So here was this orb looking like a Christmas tree ornament, very fragile, not [an infinite] expanse [of] granite … [and seemingly of] a physical insignificance and yet it was our home…
- I’m not that famous, and I’m certainly not glib, so maybe I’d really ought to [get real] work for a living.’... [T]he shareholders at General Dynamics couldn’t have cared less whether I had been at the Moon or not. So it helped me some but not all that much.
- But sooner or later people will be able to buy a ride into space.
50 Years After 'Earthrise,' a Christmas Eve Message from Its Photographer (2018)
- 50 Years After 'Earthrise,' a Christmas Eve Message from Its Photographer. Space.com's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights, December 24, 2018.
- That photograph, shared globally and always in the public domain, has since served to educate and inspire: The Earth we saw rising over the battered grey lunar surface was small and delicate, a magnificent spot of color in the vast blackness of space. Once-distant places appeared inseparably close. Borders that once rendered division vanished. All of humanity appeared joined together on this glorious-but-fragile sphere.
- From there, the blue-and-white glory of Earth, the only color amidst the blackness of space, became a beacon.
- We set out to explore the moon and instead discovered the Earth.