Apollo 8 and Earthrise United States postage stamp

Apollo 8 - United States postage stamp issued 1969
Apollo 8 – United States postage stamp issued 1969

This United States postage stamp (Scott #1371) was issued on 5 May, 1969, just months before the Apollo 11 mission and the first moonwalk. Apollo 8 was, instead, the first manned mission to orbit the Moon and the first manned voyage to return to planet Earth from another celestial body i.e. Earth’s Moon.

The design is based on a stunning photograph taken by astronaut William Anders on December 24, 1968, which shows the Earth appear to rise above the surface of the Moon. In Life’s 100 Photographs that Changed the World, photographer Galen Rowell called it “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.” In fact, this Earthrise can only be seen from someone in orbit around the Moon. Mission Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, together with Lunar Module Pilot Anders may not have been the first to walk on the lunar surface, but they were the first humans to set eyes upon the far side of the Moon.

The words “In the beginning God…” refer to the Apollo 8 Genesis reading during the television broadcast on Christmas Eve 1968, when each of the crew of Apollo 8 read from the Book of Genesis as they orbited the Moon.