On Christmas Eve in 1968, nearly a billion people tuned in to listen to the crew of the Apollo 8 space mission as they orbited the moon.

Astronauts Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman were given the duty of coming up with something “appropriate” for the people of Earth: nearly 1 in 4 of all people among 64 countries were listening to what the first humans to travel to the Moon had to say.

Unsure of their first drafts, public affairs official Joseph Laitin of the Bureau of the Budget was brought in to help. He too had trouble coming up with anything to say. His wife ended up suggesting starting at the beginning: the Book of Genesis.

With that, the first ten verses of the Book of Genesis was printed on fire proof paper and included in the Apollo 8 flight plan.

Listen below to the Apollo 8 Genesis reading and read the transcript:

 

Bill Anders
We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Jim Lovell
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

Frank Borman
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas โ€“ and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.

Watch Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman retell the story themselves, below:

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