Apollo 8 had been scheduled to test the Lunar Module in Earth orbit, but it was not ready to fly. So the schedule was juggled and William Anders, James Lovell and Frank Borman became the first astronauts to ride the gigantic Saturn V booster into space on board the Apollo Spacecraft 103 Command Module. Their mission was to break the grip of Earth gravity and to fly around the Moon and back.

“We changed our plans on Apollo 8. They changed the mission from an Earth orbital type to a flight to the Moon. And it was a bold move. It had some risky aspects to it. But it was a time when we made bold moves.”

—James Lovell (from the 2007 documentary In The Shadow of the Moon)