On Christmas Eve in 1968, Apollo 8 – the first manned mission to the Moon, entered lunar orbit. That evening, the astronauts--Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders--held a live broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and Moon as seen from their spacecraft. They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis.
During a broadcast that night, pilot Jim Lovell said "The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth." After circling the Moon 10 times on Christmas Eve, it was time to come home. On Christmas morning, mission control waited anxiously for word that Apollo 8's engine burn to leave lunar orbit had worked. They soon got confirmation when Lovell radioed, "Roger, please be informed there is a Santa Claus." The crew splashed down in the Pacific on December 27. A lunar landing was still months away, but for the first time ever, humans from Earth had visited the Moon and returned home safely.