Saturn Apollo Program

Man smiling and holding phone up to ear
Historical DateDecember 21, 1968
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Apollo 8 Astronaut James Lovell, Command Module (CM) pilot of the first manned Saturn V space flight into Lunar orbit, accepted a phone call from the U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson prior to launch. Lovell, along with astronauts William Anders, Lunar Module (LM) pilot, and Frank Borman, commander, launched aboard the Apollo 8 mission on December 21, 1968 and returned safely to Earth on December 27, 1968. The mission achieved operational experience and tested the Apollo command module systems, including communications, tracking, and life-support, in cis-lunar space and lunar orbit, and allowed evaluation of crew performance on a lunar orbiting mission. The crew photographed the lunar surface, both far side and near side, obtaining information on topography and landmarks as well as other scientific information necessary for future Apollo landings. All systems operated within allowable parameters and all objectives of the mission were achieved.