Robert Kurson is the author of “Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon.”
How did Robert get hooked on space exploration? He was born in 1963, just five years before the Apollo 8 mission. Some of his first memories were watching rockets take off. He realized he knew a lot of Apollo 11 and 13 but not much about Apollo 8. As he researched the mission he quickly learned that NASA, astronauts, and experts in the field had all talked about this mission being the most astonishing and important of all Apollo missions. Why? Apollo 8 became the first manned spacecraft to leave Earth’s orbit, reach the Earth’s Moon, orbit it and return safely to Earth. The three astronaut crew consisted of Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders.
The U.S. had historically always been behind in the race to space. With Russia continuously one step ahead, Apollo 8 gave us the advantage of having the first crew to reach the moon and paved the way for Apollo 11 to successfully put the first man on the moon.