Earthrise: Apollo 8 Astronaut William Anders Killed in Tragic Plane Crash at 90

Seattle, Washington – Former astronaut William Anders, known for capturing the iconic “Earthrise” photo during the Apollo 8 mission in 1968, tragically passed away at the age of 90 after his plane crashed into the waters off the San Juan Islands. His son, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Greg Anders, confirmed the devastating news, expressing the family’s deep sorrow.

Anders, a retired major general, considered the Earthrise photo as his most significant contribution to the space program. His photograph, the first color image of Earth from space, played a crucial role in shaping how humanity perceives our planet, sparking an environmental movement by highlighting Earth’s fragility and isolation from space.

The Apollo 8 mission in December 1968 marked a historic moment as the first human spaceflight to travel beyond low-Earth orbit to the moon and back, laying the groundwork for the eventual Apollo moon landing. Anders, along with his fellow crew members, provided a new perspective of Earth through their groundbreaking mission.

During the fatal crash, an older-model plane piloted by Anders plunged into the water near Jones Island, leading to his tragic death. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are conducting investigations into the incident to determine the cause of the crash.

Throughout his distinguished career, Anders made significant contributions to the field of space exploration, serving as a backup crew for Apollo 11 and Gemini XI. His legacy goes beyond his time in space, as he continued to make an impact through his work at the Heritage Flight Museum, which he co-founded with his wife, Valerie.

Anders’ role in capturing the Earthrise photo remains a testament to his legacy, inspiring astronauts and explorers for generations to come. His profound insights on the mission’s risks and significance shed light on the challenges and triumphs of space exploration, showcasing the dedication and courage required to push the boundaries of human exploration.

In the midst of this tragic loss, Anders’ contributions to space exploration and his lasting impact on our understanding of Earth will continue to be remembered and celebrated.