Remembering Bill Anders: NASA, space explorers mourn death of Apollo 8 astronaut

A day after the tragic death of Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders, the space exploration community is mourning the pioneer's passing, with some crediting him for changing the world's perspective on how we see Earth.

NASA posted a video on Saturday highlighting Anders' achievements, including the Apollo 8 mission, and being a backup pilot for the Gemini XI and Apollo 11 flights.

Anders' legacy will forever be cemented by his iconic "Earthrise" photo, regarded as one of the most iconic and impactful photos of all time.

FILE - This Dec. 24, 1968, file photo made available by NASA shows the Earth behind the surface of the moon during the Apollo 8 mission. Retired Maj. Gen. William Anders, the former Apollo 8 astronaut who took the iconic "Earthrise" photo showing the

"In 1968, as a member of the Apollo 8 crew, as one of the first three people to travel beyond the reach of our Earth and orbit the Moon, Bill Anders gave to humanity among the deepest of gifts an explorer and an astronaut can give. Along with the Apollo 8 crew, Bill was the first to show us, through looking back at the Earth from the threshold of the Moon, that stunning image – the first of its kind – of the Earth suspended in space, illuminated in light and hidden in darkness: the Earthrise," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a statement.

Being one of the first three humans ever to leave Earth and orbit the Moon, Anders' bravery was recognized by many. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who has flown two Space Shuttle missions and served as commander of the International Space Station, saluted Anders.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson went on to say that future missions to the Moon and beyond will carry on the legacy of Bill Anders.

"He not only saw new things but inspired generation upon generation to see new possibilities and new dreams – to voyage on Earth, in space, and in the skies. When America returns astronauts to the Moon under the Artemis campaign, and ultimately ventures onward to Mars, we will carry the memory and legacy of Bill with us," Nelson said.

Anders died in a plane crash just off the San Juan Islands on Friday, June 7. He was piloting a small plane when it dove and skimmed the surface of Puget Sound, causing it to erupt into flames. Anders' son, Greg, later confirmed the death, saying, "The family is devastated. He was a great pilot and we will miss him terribly."

Anders was 90 years old.


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