At 7:51 AM on 21 December 1968, a vehicle over 363 feet high leapt into the sky. The beast burnt 20 tons of fuel per second. More in one second by ten times what Charles Lindberg used in the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic from New York to Paris in 1927.
Onboard Apollo 8 were astronauts Bill Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell and their mission was the first manned orbit of the moon. The moon was 240,000 miles from the earth and it was moving across the sky at 2300 miles per hour. After TLI (translunar injection) the small command module with the three astronauts was rushing towards the moon at a speed of 24,226 miles per hour.
In the western Pacific the USS Yorktown, CV-10, ploughed through tropical seas as it stood watch awaiting the return of Apollo 8. It would prove to be an amazing Christmas week as the world watched the event that had never happened before.