06-7-2024, 8:18 PM

William Anders, an astronaut on Apollo 8, died in an aircraft crash

William Anders - Photo from NASA

William Anders, an astronaut celebrated for taking the iconic "Earthrise" photo during one of the first manned moon orbits, died at the age of 90 following a small plane crash in the waters north of Seattle, as confirmed by NASA, local authorities, and his family.

The sheriff's office reported receiving a call at approximately 11:40 a.m. PT, detailing an older model plane that descended into the water near the north end of Jones Island and subsequently sank.

“The family is devastated and grieving the loss of a great pilot,” Anders’ son said.

Born in Hong Kong on October 17, 1933, Anders graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1955. After commissioning in the US Air Force, he earned his pilot's wings the next year. Anders served as a fighter pilot in the all-weather interception squadrons of the Air Defense Command in both California and Iceland, his career detailed by NASA and the US Naval Academy.

In 1964, NASA selected Anders as an astronaut. He served as the backup pilot for the Gemini 11 mission in 1966 and the Apollo 11 flight in 1969, accumulating over 6,000 hours of flight time.

During the historic Apollo 8 mission in December 1968, alongside astronauts Jim Lovell and mission commander Frank Borman, Anders captured the stunning "Earthrise" photograph from lunar orbit on Christmas Eve.

NASA Administrator Sen. Bill Nelson expressed his condolences following the tragedy.

"In 1968, during Apollo 8, Bill Anders offered to humanity among the deepest of gifts an astronaut can give. He traveled to the threshold of the Moon and helped all of us see something else: ourselves. He embodied the lessons and the purpose of exploration. We will miss him," Nelson wrote on X.

Anders is survived by his wife, Valerie, their two daughters, and four sons.

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