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Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, famous for taking iconic ‘Earthrise’ picture, dies in plane crash at age 90

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Bill Anders, the Apollo 8 astronaut famous for taking the iconic “Earthrise” photo, passed away in a plane crash off the San Juan Islands. His son confirmed the tragic news, stating that the family was devastated by the loss. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson paid tribute to Anders, acknowledging his contribution to humanity and exploration during the Apollo 8 mission. Despite his historic spaceflight, Anders remained active in the aviation community in the Pacific Northwest, founding the Heritage Flight Museum in Washington.

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office reported that an older-model airplane piloted by Anders crashed into the water near Jones Island. A search and rescue operation, involving multiple agencies, was immediately initiated to locate Anders. The Federal Aviation Administration will work with the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate the cause of the crash that claimed the life of the 90-year-old astronaut.

Anders, born in Hong Kong and raised in San Diego, joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 1963 and was selected for the Apollo 8 mission. He became known for capturing the Earthrise photo during the mission, showcasing the beauty and fragility of our planet. This image played a significant role in raising awareness about environmental issues and promoting the “Overview Effect,” a sense of interconnectedness and responsibility towards Earth.

After Apollo 8, Anders took on administrative roles at NASA and later served as the first chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He also held diplomatic positions and executive roles in the nuclear and aerospace industries. Upon retiring, Anders and his wife established the Anders Foundation to support education and environmental causes, leaving a lasting impact on future generations.

In 2018, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8, the International Astronomical Union renamed a crater in the Earthrise photo to “Anders’ Earthrise” in honor of the astronaut’s contribution to space exploration. Despite his passing, Anders’ legacy lives on through the continued work of the Heritage Flight Museum and his dedication to inspiring others to protect and cherish our planet. His iconic image of Earth rising above the lunar horizon serves as a reminder of the beauty and interconnectedness of our world.

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