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Christmas in space 1968 to 2021

The celebrations were different, but just as important
Posted at 11:59 AM, Dec 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-26 12:59:50-05

HOUSTON - THE MOON — This Christmas we all have things to be thankful for.

One thing, is the many benefits the space program has brought us. It's something many in and around McGregor and Oglesby have debated recently as their windows doors and dishes shake from more frequent rocket testing.

That has many remembering about the very first Christmas in space, and celebrations since.

"Now approching Lunar sunrise and the crew from apollo 8 has a message we would like to send to you. In the beginning...God created the heaven and the earth...." said astronaut Bill Anders in 1968.

The first Christmas in space saw astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders circling the moon.

“We have liftoff”...

They had already become the first crew to blast off atop a Saturn V rocket, and the first humans to ever travel faster than 24-thousand miles an hour as the Saturn rocket hurled the three toward the moon.

Testing at the McGregor proving grounds helped set the stage for the success of the Saturn V giving central Texas a huge stake in the race for space.

As the rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral's launchpad 39a, Houston's mission control added another important message.

“Alright, you are go for TLI”

"You are go for TLI, meaning 'Trans-Lunar Injection", the statement was important because it meant NASA had cleared the three to become the first to ever leave the orbit of the earth.

They arrived at the moon in time for Christmas so they prepared a Christmas message, the first to us, that we know of, from outer space.

Because of the awesome sight in front of them, they chose the book of Genesis, with Anders, Lovell and Borman each reading a passage.

“ And God called the light day and the darkness he called night and the evening and the morning were the first day,” said Lovell.

Since that first Christmas in space, the international space station has brought us many others over the years.

This year, Santa arrived at the space station early, aboard this Dragon capsule full of gifts supplies and equipment.

“ Decolage... decolage, LIftoff”

This Christmas saw the launch of the James Webb Telescope named after the first NASA director. A joint venture of NASA and the European and Canadian space agencies, it's 100 times more powerful than the Hubble and should bring us presents of knowledge for years go come.

All these space events, coming as they do during the holidays, serve to remind us about the importance of our mission in space which have brought us benefits not only in knowledge, but in technological advances on the ground too.

The tech that puts cameras in our cell phones, memory foam, even scratch resistant sunglasses come from space tech.

And as we celebrate another Christmas on earth.... many say, none seem as moving and as breathtaking as the message from the crew from Apollo 8.

“And from the crew of Apollo 8 we close with good night, good luck a Merry Christmas and God Bless all of you, all of you on the good earth,” aid Frank Borman, who later became head of Miami-based Eastern Airlines.