It is on December 21, 1968, at 7.50, in Cape Kennedy, Florida. Apollo 8 crew – Frank Borman, Jim Lowell and Bill Anders – in their humans, over 110 meters (363 feet) before human Saturn 5 is over the top of the rocket, which is the most powerful machine ever built. Because the final second is called to tick down and it can do a bit more to launch. About four million liters of fuel have to burn them down. He looked at the BBC TV commentator as "sitting on a huge bomb".
There is every reason to be worried. During the preliminary human test of Saturn 5, a few months ago, immediately after the launch, severe tremor and G-forces are likely to kill anyone on the board. Although the rocket has been improved since then, Borman's wife has been warned by NASA that her husband has about 50/50 opportunities to save the mission.
Setter 5 rockets are not only concerned about NASA management. Apollo 8 is the first target – ahead of a huge leap in the competition to strip the man on the moon. It will be the first human spacecraft to leave Earth's orbit, first to the moon's orbit and to return to the first 40,000 kilometers / hour (25,000 mph) on Earth. Mission is gambling by the Space Agency to defeat the Soviet Union to our neighbors.
You might also like:
Apollo Curator, Tessell Moore-Harmony at the National Air and Space Museum of Washington, DC, says, "It was a very brave decision." "Everyone in the agency knew that it is an extraordinary risky mission and there are many criticisms, most famously by the British astronomer Sir Bernard Lawell, the United States has put human life at risk."
In fact, Apollo 8 did not intend to become as ambitious as ever. Originally planned as the first examination of Apollo Lander in Earth's orbit, but the production of lender was going on late. On top of it, the CIA warned that confidential information suggests that the Soviet moon was about to try its own human flight (you can actually read how close they were here.
"Everybody forgets that the Apollo program is not a research or a scientific pursuit, it's a war in the Cold War," says Burman, and we were the warriors of the Cold War. "
Despite his boss's virgins, and after just four months of intensive training, the former military fighter pilot, Burman, says he will never succeed, that the mission will succeed.
"We compelled to change the mission to complete the moon landing before the end of the decade, President Kennedy promised," says Burman. "In my opinion, the mission was very important not only for the US but for people everywhere."
With the release of the engine Zero and Countdown, Saturn 5 slowly gets out of the pad and the clear blue Florida moves in the sky. Burman says, "I think we were on the needle's point." "The sound got a strong impression – instead of being in control of anything, I had the feeling of being for a ride."
We looked down and there was Chandra – Frank Borman
"It is very difficult to breathe, it is almost impossible to move and your eyes are flat so you can get tunnel vision," she remembers, "she is an unusual feeling."
Eight minutes later they are in orbit. After one or a half orbit, they fire the third-stage engine of the rocket and move from the Earth to the moon. Then, after two days and 402,000 kilometers (250,000 miles), on Christmas Eve 8.55 GMT, the Burman Apollo burn a decisive engine on the service module, which will put the spacecraft in orbit around the Moon.
Burman recalls, "I think we made the engine slow down for about four minutes to enter the moon's orbit." "I'm about three quarters of it and we saw it down and the moon was there."
The crew was the first man who saw the moon's side with his own eyes. "I think I do not think of anything designed for the actual nature of the moon's surface – it was filled with beliefs," says Burman. "Those pores, craters, were very sad due to the remains of the volcano, so it was a very interesting first scenario of a different world."
And it is not just the vision of the moon, which is surprisingly catching them up. For about 75 hours and 48 minutes in the mission, Anders moves the Earth's blue marble on the horizon and the moon horizon rising to capture the moment.
Bromon says, "The contrast between the painful moon and the beautiful blue earth was remarkable, that the earth was the only thing in the earth, which had no color." "You can see white clouds, brown pink colonies … we're very lucky to live on this planet."
Human technological ingenuity and astronauts are being transformed into an unexpected emotional experience for people involved in a mission envisioned as a dangerous test of bravery. Aphrodite 8 will not be published until the Earth returns, but for Christmas 1968 the crew is another gift for the planet.
"Before the flight, NASA's public executive office told Bormon that they expect about one billion people – in a quarter of the world's population – to join the TV on their Christmas Eve, broadcasting from the moon orbit," says Moore-Harmony. "More humans would hear their broadcast than other human voice in history and were asked to say something right."
Our three and our wives tried to understand it – we could not do it – Frank Borman
"It's one of the most important moments in a free country," says Burman. "If you had been Soviet, you can imagine, we will talk about Lenin and Stalin and we have been asked to do something right."
But it is easy to come up with "something right". Burman says, "three of us and our wives tried to find him." "We could not."
He turned to his friend, who asked senior war correspondent Joe Leton. "As I understand, when her wife was walking, she was throwing the night's devastated paper, and her wife was a former French immune fighter, she suggested why do not you start at the beginning?"
With TV camera rolling, and astronaut approached Christmas Eve (US time) Moon Sunrise, the crew began to read from the Genesis book. "Initially …" Anders begins Bomber Broadcast "Good night, good luck, happy Christmas and God bless you, you all be on the good earth."
"We were very confident that doing this is the best thing to do," says Burman, because at least in my part the universe is bigger than all. " "It is very systematic and it is very huge that there is no divine formation."
But the mission is far more away. On Christmas Day, Burman again fires the engine to leave the Moon's orbit. Earth was burnt orbited in Earth orbital orbital earthquake – it had failed, I still will bring the moon to the circle. "
"Please report, Santa Claus!" Lowell says they re-establish contact with the land. And Santa also delivered. A specially designed fire-proof festive ribbon, in which crew missions are present in control: turkey dinner with gravy.
"[Our boss] Deco Slato smuggled brandy's three shots on the board, but we did not drink it, "says Burman." I did not want to convict anything wrong, so we brought him home. "
It extends the boundaries of human experience, which has affected our place on earth and the earth, as it has been – that cell Moor-Harmony
"I do not know what happened to me," she adds. "That's probably a lot of money now."
On December 27, the crew returned to Earth – the spaceship down close to their target in the Pacific Ocean was the same that the recovery ship had to leave the road. This was the perfect end to the complete mission, the final verdict that would pay flying gambling on the moon.
Moore-Harmony says, "Apollo 8 is not just a great scientific and engineering achievement," it extends the boundaries of human experience, which affects the way Earth praises our planet. "
For Colonel Borman, the Cold War warrior still in the 90's, the great achievement of its final mission was to make America one step closer to the Moon.
He says, "I will be honest with you, I really do not think about the heritage of Apollo 8." "Apollo 11 honestly after the success [in landing men on the Moon]I do not have much interest in the program. I joined to help fight in the Cold War and we won. "
To hear more than Frank Borman, Apollo 8 and astronauts, talk about Genesis and their own religious experiences, Listen to the Richards Radio 3 program broadcast on December 22: The Moon's Message
Join 900,000+ Future Fans by selecting us Facebook, Or follow us Twitter Or Instagram.
If you like this story, Sign up for the weekly bbc.com feature newsletter, "If you read 6 things this week". The BBC offers a selection of futures, culture, capital and travel stories to your inbox every Friday.