Apollo 8 Astronaut Bill Anders Dies in Plane Crash at Age 90

Bill Anders, famed Apollo 8 astronaut who captured the iconic “Earthrise” photo, died on Friday at 90 years old when his plane crashed off the coast of Washington state. His son, Greg Anders, confirmed the accident to CBS News, stating that the Beech A45 aircraft piloted by his father went down near Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. Authorities, including the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, are investigating the crash, with search crews yet to recover a body.

Born in Hong Kong on October 17, 1933, Anders was a distinguished figure in space exploration, logging over 6,000 flying hours and serving as the lunar module pilot for Apollo 8. Alongside Commander Frank Borman and Jim Lovell, Anders was one of the first humans to leave Earth orbit and circle the moon, famously photographing Earth rising above the lunar horizon. This image, captured on Christmas Eve 1968, became a powerful symbol of the environmental movement.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson paid tribute to Anders, noting his role in helping humanity see Earth from a new perspective. Anders’ poignant description of Earth as a “delicate, colorful orb” over the stark lunar landscape underscored the profound impact of the Apollo 8 mission. Many regard Apollo 8 as one of the most daring missions, setting the stage for the historic Apollo 11 moon landing.

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