In the upcoming two weeks, Iconic Photos would cover the NASA missions to the other space and the Moon as they appeared in leading picture magazines of the time: Life, Epoca, Paris-Match, Look, Sunday Times, etc.
These documents are not just historical records: they are tributes to the bravery and ingenuity of the astronauts and engineers who took humanity’s first steps into the vastness of space. They celebrate a time when space was a new and dangerous frontier, and each mission captured the world’s imagination.
When Apollo 8 went up there in December 21, 1968, everybody knew that the end was fast approaching. Apollo 8 was the first crewed spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit and the first human spaceflight to reach the Moon. The crew orbited the Moon ten times without landing. The largest-ever television audience to that point looked on as on Christmas Eve, 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 read from the Book of Genesis while the Earth receded in the window.
The first to produce Apollo 8 special issues in color in the United States were the major newspapers. The weeklies were tied to specific pre-production and publication schedules. On instance, the New York Times had Earthrise on its front page on December 30.
LIFE magazine was slower. In its January 10, 1969 issue, the magazine published photos from Apollo 8, including the Earthrise photo which was instantly iconic, but Look magazine, it padded out the story with poems. The lunar photos were just the opener for a longer review of the previous twelve months which had been tumultous.
In the following issue, January 17, 1969, LIFE had the astronauts’ own account of Apollo 8 mission. Life had exclusive access to the astronauts’ personal lives, having paid loft sums and underwritten a $100,000 life insurance policy for each astronaut.