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Astronaut in historic photo of Earth seen from the Moon dies in plane crash

William Anders, astronaut who took the historic photo of the Earth seen from the Moon, died in a plane crash in the United States this Friday (7).

The retired astronaut was one of the first three humans to orbit the Moon, who captured the “Earthrise” photo during NASA’s Apollo 8 mission.

Anders died this Friday (7) when the small plane he was piloting crashed in the state of Washington, according to local media.

William Anders, 90, was the only person aboard the aircraft when it crashed off the coast of Jones Island, part of the San Juan Islands archipelago between Washington and Vancouver Island, the Seattle Times reported, citing the astronaut’s son, Greg .

According to Tacoma’s Fox affiliate KCPQ-TV, Anders, a San Juan County resident, was in control of a vintage Air Force single-engine T-34 Mentor that he owned.

Video footage shown on KCPQ showed a plane falling from the skies before crashing into the water near the shore.

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for confirmation of the crash.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Air Force pilot, Anders joined NASA in 1963 as a member of the third group of astronauts.

The astronaut did not go into space until December 21, 1968, when Apollo 8 took off on the first manned mission to leave Earth’s orbit and travel 386,000 km to the moon.

Anders was the “rookie” of the crew, alongside Frank Borman, the mission commander, and James Lovell, who flew with Borman on Gemini 7 in 1965 and later commanded the ill-fated Apollo 13.

Apollo 8, originally scheduled for 1969, was delayed due to concerns that the Russians were accelerating their own plans for a trip around the Moon by the end of 1968. This gave the crew just a few months to train for the historic but highly risky mission.

During the flight, Anders captured what became one of the most iconic photographs in history, an image of Earth rising above the lunar horizon.

He also played a key role in another episode of the Christmas Eve mission – starting with the crew reading the book of Genesis as Apollo 8 transmitted images of the lunar surface to Earth.

The three astronauts were greeted as national heroes when they landed three days later in the Pacific Ocean and were honored as Time magazine’s “Men of the Year.”

The mission paved the way for the first Apollo 11 landing on the Moon seven months later, ensuring US victory in the Cold War “space race” with the Soviets.

The event was also hailed for lifting national spirits at the end of one of the United States’ most traumatic years, in which Americans were shaken by the war in Vietnam and riots and murders across the country.

Source: CNN Brasil

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