“Round the Moon and Back”
Crew: Frank Borman (Commander); William Anders (Lunar Module Pilot); James A. Lovell Jr.Command Module Pilot)
Launch Vehicle: Saturn V
Launch Date: Dec. 21, 1968
Return Date: Dec. 27, 1968
Launched on a mission to send only the CSM (e.g. no lunar module) on a trip around the Moon, Apollo 8 was a spectacular success. It demonstrated many of the capabilities needed for a future lunar landing, and returned the first live television broadcasts from another world - including a special Christmas greeting. It gave human beings a new perspective on their world.
In the decades following Apollo 8, it has become accepted that this mission is what actually won the Space Race. It was the pivotal mission that ended the the Soviet Union’s race to beat the United States to the Moon.