First flight to the moon: Astronaut William Anders dies

First flight to the moon: Astronaut William Anders dies

He was among the first three astronauts to fly to the moon in 1968 and took a world-famous photo of the earth. Now William Anders has crashed into the Pacific Ocean in a small plane and died.

Former US astronaut William Anders died during a flight in a small piloted aircraft. US media reported, citing his son Greg, that the 90-year-old American crashed into the Pacific northwest of Seattle. He was alone in the plane. The New York Times reported that it was a Beechcraft T-34 Mentor.

Police confirmed that an older plane crashed near one of the San Juan Islands in Washington State. An investigation has been launched. Anders was married and had six children.

World famous photo of the Earth from the Moon

Anders was one of the three astronauts who flew to the moon in 1968 in the “Apollo 8” as the first crew and orbited it several times without landing. On Christmas Eve he took the world-famous photo “Earthrise”, in which the earth rises as seen from the moon. The slightly shaded globe can be seen as a blue marble. This photo made many people realize that the earth is just a small blue planet in space that must be protected from destruction.

The head of NASA, Bill Nelson, writes on X about Anders’ death that he had given humanity “one of the most profound gifts” an astronaut can give: “He traveled to the threshold of the moon and helped us all see something else: ourselves. He embodies the lessons and the goal of exploration. We will miss him.”

Anders: “The photo changed my thinking”

Anders himself was not entirely satisfied with the technical quality of the photo, as he once told the Seattle Times, but it also changed his way of thinking: “Here we are, on an insignificant planet flying around a not particularly significant star, in a galaxy of millions of stars that are not significant, when there are millions and millions of galaxies in the universe – so are we really that significant? I don’t think so.”

Astronaut and nuclear engineer

Anders was born in Hong Kong in 1933 because his father was stationed there with the US Navy. He then grew up in California, studied at the Naval Academy, worked in the Air Force and also became a nuclear energy engineer. In 1963 he became an astronaut at NASA and in 1968 he took part in his first major mission – Apollo 8.

After his career at NASA, Anders had various jobs: he was a presidential advisor, US ambassador and worked for various nuclear energy and aviation companies.

Erdaufgang über dem Horizont des Mondes am 24.12.1968 aus der Sicht der Apollo 8 Mission


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