tv 50th Anniversary of Apollo 8 CSPAN January 1, 2019 8:12am-9:19am EST
discoveries and possibly even discovering life on a world that is not our own. let me tell you about jim for a second. jim is a navy pilot by trade. go navy. and jim is a retired captain of the united states navy. he's also a veteran astronaut of "gem any 7" and "gem any 12" and "apollo 8" but even more famous for the movie knead in the 1990s "apollo 13." ladies and gentlemen, my good friend, captain jim lovell.
[ applause ] thank you. thank you for the kind introduction. i think you've laid out quite a future plan for our state's activities. it was the summer of 1968, the country was fighting an unpopular war in vietnam, student uprisings, and the assassinations of two prominent americans. the me too movement was beginning with angry women
threatening to burn their bras in public to protest and hippies were crowding the street corners. i finished my second space flight in november of 1966. i was looking forward to being involved in the apollo program. i didn't pay any attention to what was happening outside nasa's gate. a disastrous fire in january of 1967 when "apollo 1" launch complex killed three friends and delayed apollo for ten months. commitment to land on the moon by the end of the decade was in jeopardy. my next assignment was "apollo 8" and flight scheduled for december 1968 to check out the
newly developed -- my companions were frank and bill. i flew with bill and frank was a rookie assigned to the lunar pilot position and this mission would give him experience with the lunar module for a later flight. two incidents occurred in the summer of '68 that changed our mission and the history of apollo. the maker of the lunar module informed nasa that a lunar module would not be ready for delivery before '69. suddenly "apollo 8" didn't have a mission. next, we received intelligence from the russians planning to launch a manned flight in december of 1968. they were serious.
they flew the unmanned fire spacecraft around the moon in september followed by november. the 7 was being prepared for a manned flight in december. it was george lou, manager of the apollo program who had the brilliant idea if "apollo 7" mid orbit flight in mid october to certify the apollo command service module, if it is successful, then launch apollo 8's command service module to the moon. but to go into lunar orbit. he figured the flight would shorten the time to a lunar landing and test the navigation and communications systems, the effects of the moon's mass
concentration on an orbiting spacecraft. the landing areas provide close of photography and finally give america an uplift it needed. nasa management had to be convinced the flight booster still had problems and navigations and communications systems needed upgrading and "apollo 7" had to be successful. the change in the mission answered his dream to beat the russians to the moon. he had no interest in expiration. anders, at first, was disappointed not to test the lunar module to step toward a lunar landing flight. i was delighted. to me, this will be a lewis and clark expedition.
exploring new territory on the moon's far side. and it all came together on an early morning of december 21st, 1968. crossing the bridge to the launch tower to the spacecraft, i saw 360 feet below the lights of the press vehicles. suddenly i realized i'm actually going to the moon. all that navigational training i had was for real. at 7:21, "apollo 8" started its journey. there had been no sign of a russian launch. we entered lunar or bit on the
dark side. the moon nowhere to be seen. as we continued to orbit, shards of sunlight started to illuminate the peaks of craters just 60 miles below. finally, the far side was bathed in sunlight and we stared in silence as the ancient craters slowly passed underneath. i was observing alive that part of the moon that had been hidden from man for millions of years. then looking up, i saw it. the earth. a blue and white ball. just above the lunar horizon 240,000 miles away. i thought my world is only as
far as the eye can see and the country, mountains, hills, and trees -- and cities tall buildings defined by world. and in this cathedral, my world exists within these walls. but seeing the earth at 240,000 miles my world suddenly expanded to infinity. i put my thumb up to the window and completely hid the earth. just think, over 3 billion people, mountains, oceans, deserts, everything i'd ever knew was behind my thumb. as i observed the earth, i realized my home is a small planet. one of nine in the solar system.
it's just a mere speck in our milky way galaxy and lost to oblivion in the universe. i began to question my own existence. how do i fit in to what i see? and then i remembered a saying i've often heard. i hope to go to heaven when i die. i suddenly realized that i went to heaven when i was born. i arrived on a planet with a proper mass to have the gravity to contain water and an atmosphere. the essentials for life. i arrived on a planet just the right distance to absorb that
energy. energy that caused life to evolve in the beginning. in my mind, the answer was clear. god gave mankind a stage in which to perform how the play ends is up to us. tranquility found mountain air a small triangular mountain that would soon be the steppingstone for the first lunar landing. by all means, a flight of
"apollo 8" was a complete success. navigation and communications operations proved their worth. the timing of the flight, orbiting the moon at christmas provided us a spiritual environment to read the first ten versuses of genesis to an audience on earth. that one photo provided convinces evidence that many nations are but one world. as for me, the flight prepared for me for lunar mission apollo 13 but that's another story. it was the american public, however, that received the greatest gift after a year of controversy "apollo 8" gave them
a reason to be american. it can best be expressed by a telegram received. it only said thanks. you saved 1968. the following july i was asked to accompany charles lindbergh. as we listened to the countdown, said to him take a look at that. the spacecraft on top will try to land on the moon. i could tell he was in deep thought. i expect he was thinking of his own voyage, the perilous over-water flight from new york to paris. suddenly he answered "apollo 11" would be an accomplishment.
the apollo program overcame immense odds to accomplish something extraordinary. one of history's greatest competitio competitions resulted in a grand voyage of discovery made in peace for all human kind. the journey of apollo 88 50 years later, we're at high noon. if the greatest legacy of the first flight to the moon was the discovery of earth, then our responsibility to that legacy is to our protect 05 basis among the stars. it reflects some of the best parts of human nature.
our curiosity and creativity. ideas nas seem to inspire us and understand united any feasible goal is within us. no matter how far it takes us through unknown challenges an unimagined opportunities, let's always remember the moment we left earth for the first time only to look back and discover what was truly precious. however far we may travel, what will matter most is home. and all of us together. all of us here on the good
earth. >> thank you for coming tonight. god bless and may we always be reaching for the stars. thank you. [ applause ] you're watching american history tv. 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter, for information on our schedule and to keep up with the latest history news.