Apollo Mission Astronaut William Anders Killed in Plane Crash

Apollo astronaut William Anders, who took the iconic “Earthrise” photo as his Apollo 8 spacecraft orbited the moon in 1968, was killed Friday when the plane he was flying crashed. He was 90.

The crash took place Friday morning near the  San Juan Islands in Washington state, according to The Associated Press.

“The family is devastated,” retired Air Force Lt. Col. Greg Anders, the astronaut’s son, said. “He was a great pilot and we will miss him terribly.”

NASA Administrator and former Sen. Bill Nelson posted his tribute to Anders on X.

“In 1968, during Apollo 8, Bill Anders offered to humanity among the deepest of gifts an astronaut can give. He traveled to the threshold of the Moon and helped all of us see something else: ourselves. He embodied the lessons and the purpose of exploration. We will miss him,” he posted.


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Anders recalled the moment he took the picture during a 2018 interview.

“When the Earth came up over the lunar horizon, that’s when it really impressed me as to how much more delicate the Earth was, and colorful,” he said, according to NBC.

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“I must say, even today if I look up and see that little crescent moon, my hair kind of goes up on the back of my neck a little bit,” Anders said then.

In his obituary, The New York Times recalled the Apollo 8 flight, which was orbiting the moon on Christmas Eve with Anders, Air Force Col. Frank Borman and Navy Capt. James Lovell aboard.

“Oh my God! Look at that picture over there. Here’s the Earth coming up. Wow, that’s pretty,” Anders said, according to the recording of the flight

“Hey, don’t take that, it’s not scheduled,” Borman said.

Anders laughed off the comment.


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“You got a color film, Jim? Hand me that roll of color quick, would you?” Anders said.

“Oh man, that’s great,” Lovell replied.

The crew did a broadcast from space on the long-ago Christmas Eve and closed it by reading the opening words of the Book of Genesis.

“In 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,” Anders read.

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