Space Race (06:22)
On December 21st, 1968, Apollo 8 crew Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders become the first humans to leave Earth's orbit. In 1957, the Russians launch Sputnik. In 1961, President John Kennedy announces the deadline to land a man on the moon; test pilots master basic space flight by 1967.
Disastrous Setback (04:43)
On January 27th, 1967, Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee practice Apollo 7 liftoff; they experience communication problems before a cockpit fire kills them and burns the craft. Borman discusses the damage report; exposed electrical wiring, hatch mechanics, atmosphere, and environment flammability contributed to the catastrophe.
Saturn V (06:40)
A redesigned command module, navigation, and propulsion are developed; Wernher von Braun utilizes the F1 Engine; Sonny Morea discusses its combustion instability and the lack of resources. Baffles were added to attenuate burning oscillations. Michael Collins discusses shock waves emitted by liftoff from the November 1967 unmanned practice flight.
Inventing Reliable Technologies (07:17)
Douglas discusses orbital and rotational movements complicating craft trajectory and landing. Apollo's new navigational system utilizes an IMU and space sextant. A computer is developed for complex maneuvering and revised for astronaut control; Margaret Hamilton builds operational software for the digital fly by wire system. Eldon Hall implements integrated circuits, shrinking hardware.
Modifying Plans (03:10)
After receiving information of the Soviet's intent to orbit the moon, the Apollo 8 mission is changed; Jerry Bostick discusses resulting issues of the decision. The redesigned command module is tested and astronauts frantically train and prepare for the risky new destination.
See footage of December 21st, 1968 launch and preparation; mission team members recall risks and new technologies inducing anxieties; astronauts describe physical stresses of ascent. After orbiting Earth, the third stage engine begins Translunar Injection, thrusting Apollo toward the moon. CAPCOM Michael Collins announces the maneuver propelling humans to another gravitational body for the first time.
Display Keyboards and Losing Contact (05:03)
Astronauts cannot see the moon as they approach two days after liftoff; computer navigation must be precise, turning the craft at a specific time. Ramone Alonso recalls designing interface and coding for pilot control; during lunar orbit insertion, transmission is blocked by correct trajectory; Apollo 8 loses contact at the right moment.
Heavens and the Earth (05:21)
Astronauts describe seeing the lunar surface and far side of the moon as mission control awaits their transmission; orbital burn works and contact resumes; Apollo 8 orbits ten times. On Christmas Eve, they broadcast live footage; Borman recalls discussion of event narration; Lovell quotes Genesis at Christine Laitin's suggestion.
Coming Home (04:07)
A trans-Earth injection is designed to thrust Apollo 8 back into Earth's orbit. Transmission is temporarily lost; the maneuver is successful, communication resumes, and the craft coasts home. Software developer Hamilton discusses worries regarding PO1 error; Loveall makes the mistake of resetting the computer while updating position status; he uses the space sextant to correct course.
Unifying Experience (03:59)
On September 7th, 1968, Apollo 8 reenters Earth's atmosphere and lands in the Pacific Ocean; seven months later, Neil Armstrong walks on the moon. Computer technology advanced to accommodate the mission; David Mindell explains how it inspired keyboards, touch screens and digital controls. Astronauts and mission team describe the exploration's impact on humanity.
Credits: Apollo's Daring Mission (00:46)
Credits: Apollo's Daring Mission
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