NASA Earthrise astronaut dies at age 90 in plane crash

Getty Images Anders in his space suitGetty Images

Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, who took one of the most famous photographs in outer space, has died in a plane crash at the age of 90.

Officials say a small plane he was piloting crashed into the sea off Washington state.

Anders’ son Greg confirmed that his father’s body was recovered Friday afternoon.

A statement from the family said: “The family is devastated. He was a great pilot. He will be missed.”

Anders – who was the Lunar Module Pilot on the Apollo 8 mission – took the famous Earthrise image, one of the most inspiring and memorable images of Earth from space.

The photo was taken on Christmas Eve during the 1968 mission, the first manned spaceflight to leave Earth and reach the Moon, and shows the planet rising above the horizon from the barren surface of the Moon.

Anders later described it as his most important contribution to the space program.

NASA's Earth peaks behind the Moon in a distinctive imageNASA

The image is widely credited with catalyzing the global environmental movement and led to the creation of Earth Day, an annual event to promote activism and awareness of caring for the planet.

Speaking about that moment, Anders said: “We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing we discovered is the Earth.”

Officials said Anders’ plane crashed at about 11:40 PT (1940 GMT).

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the 90-year-old was flying a Beechcraft AA 45 – also known as a T-34. The agency said the plane crashed about 80 feet (25 meters) off the coast of Johns Island.

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Witness Philip Pearson said King TV In Seattle he saw the accident.

He told the network that the plane began doing what appeared to be a loop and flipped over.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing before my eyes,” Pearson told the local news station. “It looked like something out of a movie or special effects. With the big bang and the flames and everything.”

Footage purported to capture the plane crash appears to show a last-second attempt to pull out, before it floats to the surface of the water and turns into fiery wreckage.

BBC News has not verified the video.

Anders also served as a backup pilot for the Apollo 11 mission, the name of the effort that led to the first moon landing on July 24, 1969.

After Anders retired from the space program in 1969, the former astronaut worked largely in the aerospace industry for several decades. He also served as US Ambassador to Norway for a year in the 1970s.

But he is best remembered for the Apollo 8 mission and the iconic photo he took from space.

“In 1968, during Apollo 8, Bill Anders gave humanity one of the most profound gifts an astronaut can give,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “He traveled to the doorstep of the Moon and helped us all see something else: ourselves.” statement.

In a previous interview, he described taking it up after getting “a little training in photography.”

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“We were in lunar orbit, upside down and going backwards, so for the first several orbits we didn’t see Earth, and then we twisted the spacecraft so it was moving forward and suddenly I saw this out of the corner of my eye,” he said. The color – it was shocking.

“So I took a picture, then I animated it, and then I animated it.”

Anders “has inspired me and generations of astronauts and explorers. My thoughts are with his family and friends,” Mark Kelly, a former astronaut who is now a US senator from Arizona, said in a post on X, formerly Twitter. .

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