The Road to the Moon Landings – Apollo 8 – Time Magazine, 1969

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.


Fifty four years later, it is hard to miss its seismic impact. As LIFE noted, it capped an incredible year of news which were not always great: two political assassinations, the worsening situation in Vietnam, turmoil of college campuses and around the world, and the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia. Perhaps that was why the crew of Apollo 8 became Time magazine’s Men of the Year that December.

The Astronauts remembered:

Jim Lovell: “[Men of the Year] always reminded me of a very significant milestone. We were able to complete a very turbulent year by doing something that was respected and honored, not just in the U.S. but by the whole world.”

William Anders: “The main objective — contrary to what a lot of people think — was to beat the Russians to the moon. [Being named Men of the Year] was really a wake-up call that Apollo 8 was bigger than just beating the commies.”

Accompanied by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke’s visionary epic 2001: A Space Odyssey, which first came out in April and was then showing in cinemas round the globe (the crew also attended its Houston showing a few months earlier), it was the high watermark: the peak of public interest in human spaceflight. People saying the U.S. government should “do more” in space peaked in late 1968 (~30pc) but declined to ~20pc six months later, before Apollo 11 landed on the moon. In addition, the NASA budget also declining, from the peak year in 1966. It did not recover. Apollo 8’s success largely took the world by surprise. By the time Apollo 11 was launched, the world had already got used to the idea of manned lunar flight.

Liked it? Take a second to support Iconic Photos on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

29 thoughts on “The Road to the Moon Landings – Apollo 8 – Time Magazine, 1969

  1. Thanks for another informative blog. Where else could I get that type of information written in such an ideal way? I have a project that I’m just now working on, and I have been on the look out for such information.

  2. I like what you guys are up too. Such smart work and reporting! Carry on the excellent works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it’ll improve the value of my website 🙂

  3. Today, I went to the beach front with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *