There were three astronauts who could claim to be the first to orbit the Moon.
On December 24, 1968, Frank Borman, William Anders, and James Lovell went into lunar orbit for 20 hours aboard Apollo 8.
After their successful mission, the next step of the space program would be the one actually taken on the Moon.
Apollo 8 was the first human spaceflight mission to leave Earth’s orbit and the first manned spacecraft to return to planet Earth from the Moon.
The astronauts were the first humans to see the far side of the Moon, and the first people to see planet Earth from beyond the Earth’s orbit.
After the launch on December 21, 1968, Apollo 8 took three days to travel to the Moon.
The crew made a Christmas Eve television broadcast and read the first 10 verses from the Book of Genesis as they orbited the moon.
At the time, the broadcast was the most watched TV program ever.
Apollo 8’s successful mission paved the way for the Apollo 11 moon landing which fulfilled U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s goal of putting a man on the Moon before the end of the decade.