Apollo 8 Astronaut Bill Anders Passes Away Aged 90

Why Trust Techopedia
Key Takeaways

  • Apollo 8 astronaut William “Bill” Anders has passed away at the age of 90.
  • Anders was one of the first three people to travel beyond Earth and orbit the Moon as part of the Apollo 8 crew in 1968.
  • He gave us the “Earthrise” photo that showed the Earth coming up over the Moon’s horizon.

Apollo 8 astronaut Major General (ret.) William “Bill” Anders passed away in Washington State’s San Juan Islands on June 7th at the age of 90.

Along with joining the Apollo 8 crew, he gave us a pioneering image — Earth coming up over the Moon’s horizon in the “Earthrise” (shown below). The image provided a new perspective on the planet and its fragility in the larger cosmos.

As Anders himself said, “We came all this way to explore the Moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.”

Bill Anders' "Earthrise" photo from Apollo 8
Credit: NASA

Born October 7th, 1933 in Hong Kong, Bill Anders studied for a bachelor of science degree at the US Naval Academy, later completing a master of science in Nuclear Engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio in 1962.

Anders joined the US Air Force as a fighter pilot and was later responsible for the technical management of nuclear power reactor shielding and radiation effects programs at New Mexico’s Air Force Weapons Lab. In 1964 he was chosen to join NASA as an astronaut, serving as a backup pilot for Gemini XI and Apollo 11 flights, and as the lunar module pilot for Apollo 8.

Anders racked up an impressive 26 years of service to his country as a US Air Force officer, astronaut, engineer, ambassador, advisor, and more.

In total, he logged over 6,000 hours of flying time and holds several world flight records, as well as a number of Distinguished Service Medals from NASA, the Air Force, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He was also awarded the National Geographic Society’s Hubbard Medal for Exploration.

When he wasn’t flying, Anders loved fishing and cross-country skiing, as well as spending time with his wife, Valerie, and their four sons and two daughters.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson called Anders a pioneer, visionary, and a great hero with “the heart of an adventurer,” who will be forever remembered by the agency.