The world has just lost another legend and American hero. Astronaut Frank Borman, best known for his command of the historic Apollo 8 Christmas 1968 flight that circled the moon 10 times and paved the way for lunar landing the next year, has died at the age of 95.
He will be remembered as a titan in exploration and aviation, a pioneer of our space age.
Borman’s impact on NASA was enormous. “Today we remember one of NASA’s best. Astronaut Frank Borman was a true American hero,” said Administrator Bill Nelson in a statement Thursday, November 9. “His lifelong love for aviation and exploration was only surpassed by his love for his wife Susan.”
Borman’s career with NASA included leading Gemini 7 mission with fellow astronaut James Lovell to complete the first space orbital rendezvous, and commanding Apollo 8’s historic mission to circle the moon ten times – paving the way for lunar landings in 1969.
Like many of you, the news of Frank Borman’s passing is tough to hear. Frank was a NASA institution, his life dedicated to aviation and space – from fighter pilot, to test pilot, to astronaut and beyond. His Apollo 8 Christmas reading of Genesis still echoes. Frank had the right… pic.twitter.com/47pllppF8d
— Dr. Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) November 11, 2023
Apollo 8 launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on December 21st, 1968 – beginning its three day journey to reach lunar orbit on Christmas Eve. On board were astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders; after circling ten times between Dec 24th-25th they began their return home December 27th.
On Christmas Eve they broadcasted live from orbiter reading from Genesis: “n the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” As they parted ways with a goodnight message to all on earth wishing them luck and Merry Christmas, it was clear something special had happened during this mission.
The iconic photograph taken by Anders of Earth rising above gray lunar landscape encapsulated this moment perfectly; as described by Borman himself “We were the first humans to see world in its majestic totality…we shared another thought I had: ‘This must be what God sees.’”