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LIFE.com: NASA's Greatest Hits

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December 21, 1968: Apollo 8 Changes Everything

On December 21, 1968, Apollo 8 launches with help from a Saturn V booster from the Kennedy Space Center. Apollo 8 carries three astronauts: Frank Borman, James A. Lovell Jr., and William A. Anders. The flight, originally only a test of Apollo hardware, is upgraded to a circumlunar flight, orbiting the moon. Most famously, the flight sends back photos of Earth from space, wowing the world and doing much to convince an embattled American public -- entrenched in Vietnam and the civil rights movement -- about the value of the space program. (NASA/Time and Life Pictures/Getty Images/LIFE.com)
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