Apollo 8 Astronaut William Anders Dies in Plane Crash at 90


Retired Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders, renowned for his iconic "Earthrise" photograph, tragically died in a plane crash on Friday. He was 90 years old. The crash occurred near the San Juan Islands in Washington state, where Anders resided.

His son, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Greg Anders, confirmed the news to The Associated Press, expressing the family's devastation and describing his father as a great pilot who will be sorely missed.

Anders was piloting his vintage Air Force T-34 Mentor when it went down just off the coast of Jones Island. The San Juan County Sheriff's Office reported receiving an initial call about the crash around 11:40 a.m., noting that the aircraft sank after impacting the water. A dive team from the U.S. Coast Guard recovered Anders' body after an extensive search covering 215 nautical miles.

Born on October 17, 1933, in Hong Kong, William Anders had a distinguished career in both the military and NASA. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1955 and earned a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1962. Anders was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 1964 and served as the lunar module pilot for the historic Apollo 8 mission in December 1968.

The Apollo 8 mission marked the first time humans orbited the moon, and Anders, along with fellow astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell, beamed back stunning images of the lunar surface and Earth. Anders’ "Earthrise" photograph, showing the Earth rising over the moon's horizon, became one of the most famous images of the 20th century and was later immortalized on a U.S. postage stamp.

Anders logged over 6,000 hours of flight time and served as a backup pilot for both the Gemini 11 and Apollo 11 missions. After retiring from NASA and the Air Force in 1969, he served as the executive secretary of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, advising the President on space policy. Anders continued to contribute to the aerospace field, working in various capacities until his full retirement from the Air Force Reserves in 1988.

The crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to determine the cause. The loss of William Anders marks the end of a remarkable life dedicated to exploration, innovation, and service to his country.

Anders’ contributions to space exploration and his legacy as an astronaut who captured the beauty and fragility of Earth from space will continue to inspire future generations. His passing is a significant loss for the scientific and aerospace communities.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here