Frank Borman, the daring adventurer who commanded the historic Apollo 8 Christmas 1968 flight, where he orbited the moon 10 times and paved the way for the next year’s smooth landing, passed away at the age of 95.
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According to NASA, Borman’s transition occurred on Monday in Billings, Montana. In the early 70s, after leaving his astronaut career in 1970. He decided ot take on new challenges of leading Eastern Air Lines.
However, Frank Borman was renowned for his NASA missions. Alongside his crewmates, James Lovell and William Anders, he embarked on the first Apollo mission to fly around the moon—giving Earth a distant view like a distant, glowing sphere in the void of space.
Apollo 8: A Pioneering Mission
Apollo 8 launched from Cape Canaveral on December 21, 1968. Aboard Apollo 8, the astronauts spent three days traveling to the moon and on the Christmas Day, their spacecraft became trapped in lunar orbit. Borman circled the moon 10 times on December 24-25 before returning home on December 27.
On Christmas Day, the astronauts broadcasted a reading from the Book of Genesis directly from the orbit.
Before this, Frank Borman and Lovell had a historic rendezvous during the Gemini 7 mission two weeks prior, beginning on December 4, 1965, marking the first-ever space rendezvous with Gemini 6 at a distance of just 120 feet.
Apollo 8’s Impact
In his book, Frank Borman mentioned that the original plan for Apollo 8 was to orbit the Earth. The successful mission of Apollo 7 in October 1968 demonstrated the confidence in the system for long-duration flights, prompting NASA to decide that the time had come to fly to the moon.
However, Frank Borman noted that there was another reason to alter NASA’s plans: the agency wanted to beat the Russians. He said that he believed one orbit would be enough to accomplish this goal.
In the fourth orbit of this mission, Anders captured the famous “Earthrise” image, showing a blue and white Earth rising over the gray lunar landscape.
Borman wrote about how Earth looked from a distance: “We were the first humans to see the world in all its splendor, a deeply emotional experience for each of us. We said nothing, but I was sure that our thoughts were similar to the families of our ancestors who emigrated to a new land. And perhaps we shared a new thought that was in my mind: ‘This must be what God sees.”
Frank Borman: Eastern Air Lines Leadership
After NASA, Borman’s aviation career began in 1970 when he joined Eastern Air Lines, at that time America’s fourth-largest airline. He eventually became the president and CEO of Eastern, serving as chairman of the board in 1976. During his tenure at Eastern, fuel prices soared, the industry was deregulated, and the company faced financial troubles. In 1986, Frank Borman decided to tale a permanant leave of absence from his position. He decided to make Las Cruces, New Mexico his new home.
Legacy and Later Years
In his adventurous life, Frank Borman wrote that his love for flying started at an early age when he and his father collected model airplanes. At the age of 15, he took flying lessons, funded by working as an attendant at a Bowling alley and later as a gas station attendant. After eight hours of dual instruction, he took his first solo flight. Frank Borman continued flying throughout the 1950s. In 1962, he was selected by NASA for the astronaut program.
A Congressional Space Medal of Honor was presented to Frank Borman by President Jimmy Carter. In 1998, Frank Borman started a cattle ranch in Big Horn, Montana, with his son Fred.