I was glued to the TV, not eagerly awaiting Santa, which is what most 9 years olds were doing that night, but I was watching coverage of Apollo 8.
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Apollo 8 was the first time a modern human left Earth for another planetary body. It was awesome. Frank Borman, James Lovell, and John Anders arrived at the moon on Dec 24, 1968. This picture is the sight that greeted them when they made their first orbit around the moon, the earth in the distance rising up over the barren lunar landscape.
Hell, it still gives me the chills. And to think the US Space program was so full of promises, plans for lunar stations, extensive exploration of the moon, followed by trips to Mars.
Then a nutcase in the house, Mondale, began belly aching about how much it was costing... when the US could use that funding for more wars (which is where it went..) , and after Apollo, NASA went dead in the water for a while - then the most expensive craft ever flow - the shuttle- but still no real achievements like Apollo.