Apollo 8 Astronaut Dies in Tragic Accident

Astronaut William Anders is best known for a photo he took when he was on board Apollo 8. This is a photo known as the “Earthrise.” He took the iconic photo while Apollo 8 was in lunar orbit. It shows the earth “rising” in outer space, much like a sunrise.

Now, at age 90, Anders has died. The death wasn’t due to an illness or natural causes due to old age. Instead, Yahoo! reports that his life ended due to a tragic accident.

At age 90 years old, Anders was flying a Beechcraft plane when something went terribly wrong. He ended up crashing the plane into the water near the San Juan Islands in Washington state. He was the only person on the plane, and he died following the crash. The Coast Guard recovered his body.

This tragic event occurred on Friday June 7, 2024.

In a statement, NASA administrator Bill Nelson shared, “Bill Anders offered to humanity among the deepest of gifts an astronaut can give. He traveled to the threshold of the Moon and helped all of us see something else: ourselves. He embodied the lessons and the purpose of exploration. We will miss him.”

When Anders took the “Earthrise” photo, it was Christmas Eve in 1968. It was also the first time humans had ever entered lunar orbit, and the very first time humans had ever been to the dark side of the moon.

After Apollo 8, Anders never traveled to outer space again; however, he wasn’t done working in aeronautics. In 1969, President Richard Nixon appointed Anders executive secretary of the National Aeronautics and Space Council.

In Nelson’s statement, he touched on the fact that Anders made a lot of contributions to the world during his lifetime. He explained, “The voyage Bill took in 1968 was only one of the many remarkable chapters in Bill’s life and service to humanity. In his 26 years of service to our country, Bill was many things – U.S. Air Force officer, astronaut, engineer, ambassador, advisor, and much more.”

Anders is survived by his wife Valerie and 6 children, 4 sons and 2 daughters.

Watch the video below to learn more about Ander’s life, death and the iconic photo he took in 1968.