The San Diego Air & Space Museum Remembers Apollo 8 Astronaut Bill Anders, who captured “Earthrise,” one of the most iconic photos in human history

The San Diego Air & Space Museum is remembering Bill Anders, the Lunar Module Pilot on the historic Apollo 8 mission which took men to the moon for the first time in human history in December 1968 and a member of the prestigious International Air & Space Hall of Fame. Anders passed away on June 7, 2024, in a solo plane crash in Washington State. He was 90.

“The daring and bravery of Apollo 8’s crew of Bill Anders, Frank Borman and Jim Lovell, who became the first astronauts on the first flight to the Moon is considered by many to the be one of the brightest – if not the brightest – in the American Space program’s quest to walk the Moon.  Because of them we knew flying to the Moon was possible.  It’s one the most incredible feats in the history of NASA,” said Jim Kidrick, President & CEO of the San Diego Air & Space Museum. “Bill was such an incredible and accomplished pilot and leader, who also loved his dear wife Valerie and his amazing family.  I considered him more like a second Dad and he was always a personal inspiration to me.  He chose the San Diego Air & Space Museum to stage a very special night…Valerie and Bill on stage, sharing their love for each other and the incredible lives they spent together as he prepared to be a member of the first astronaut crew to fly to the Moon. He was very much a great friend to the San Diego Air & Space Museum and our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

William A. Anders was born October 17 1933, in Hong Kong but grew up in San Diego, California. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1955, and after pilot training, he went on to graduate from Harvard University.

In 1963, Anders was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for training in the Apollo program. On December 21, 1968, LMP Anders, Commander Frank Borman and Command Module Pilot James Lovell became the first men to leave Earth's gravity and orbit the Moon. Apollo 8 gave us our first close-up view of the lunar surface and of the moon's back side. The astronauts remained in an orbit about 70 miles above the surface of the moon for about 20 hours, transmitting television pictures to earth and verifying that lunar landmarks could be used for navigation to lunar landing sites.

During Apollo 8’s time orbiting the Moon, Anders captured the iconic “Earthrise” photo of the Earth rising above the lunar surface, Mankind’s first look back from its planet from lunar orbit. The photo is considered by many as one of the most significant and impactful in the history of the world.

Most significantly, Apollo 8 confirmed the technology which permitted succeeding crews to land on the Moon. In 1969, Anders served as back-up Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 11, the first lunar landing.

After leaving NASA, he went on to serve in a number of prestigious public and corporate appointments including U.S. Ambassador to Norway and chairman, General Dynamics Corporation.

Since 1963, the International Air & Space Hall of Fame has honored the world’s most significant pilots, crew members, visionaries, inventors, aerospace engineers, business leaders, preservationists, designers and space explorers. Anders entered the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum in 1990.

The International Air & Space Hall of Fame is the most prestigious induction of its kind in the world and is composed of hundreds of air and space pioneers, engineers, inventors and innovators, along with adventurers, scientists and industry leaders.  NASA Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts and Russian cosmonauts are honored in the Hall, as well as famous legends such as the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Neil Armstrong and Amelia Earhart. Notable inductees also include Buzz Aldrin, Igor Sikorsky, Wernher von Braun, Jack Northrop, Jackie Cochran, William Boeing, Sr., Reuben H. Fleet, Glenn Curtiss, Walter Zable Sr., Fran Bera, Wally Schirra, Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, T. Claude Ryan, Jimmy Doolittle, Bob Hoover, Ellen Ochoa, Peggy Whitson, Linden Blue, Patty Wagstaff, and many more.  See the following link:

To read more about Bill Anders, visit his International Air & Space Hall of Fame page here:

San Diego Air & Space Museum

Subscribe to our E-Newsletter

Get Social with SDASM

Icon for Facebook Icon for Twitter Icon for Instagram Icon for Pinterest Icon for Kayak