Apollo 8
8:27 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Astronaut Recreates Christmas Eve Broadcast in Chicago

Earthrise
The crew of Apollo 8 captured "Earthrise" on Christmas Eve 1968.
Credit NASA

Retired astronaut Jim Lovell was in Chicago Monday to recreate Apollo 8's famous Christmas Eve broadcast from 1968. The original transmission came at the end of a tumultuous year.

With a seemingly intractable war in Vietnam, riots in American cities, and the assassination of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy — things were not looking up at Christmas 1968. It was against this backdrop that we heard from the three men aboard the first manned flight to the moon.

WILLIAM ANDERS: "For all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you."

William Anders began reading from the book of Genesis. Then Lovell took over.

JIM LOVELL (1968): "And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. ..."

JIM LOVELL (2013): "... And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, let there be firmament in the midst of the waters. ..."

Along with two high school students, Lovell recited the text of the broadcast at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, which has the Apollo 8 command module on display.

While Americans have been scaling back on space exploration, China is pursuing its own moonshot. This month it landed an unmanned rover to explore the lunar surface.