Astronauts have celebrated Christmas in space since the first manned mission to the moon, Apollo 8, in 1968. Nowadays, astronauts on board the International Space Station can record video messages, talk with their family and friends on the ground and have their own holiday parties in orbit. But the first Christmas humans spent in space was a little different. Mission controllers reminded the astronauts that millions of Americans would be tuning in to watch and listen to the words of the first people ever to orbit another world.
Lovell explained the team's reasoning. "The first 10 verses of Genesis is the foundation of many of the world's religions, not just the Christian religion," Lovell said. The crewmembers ended the message by wishing everyone "on the good Earth" a Merry Christmas. The Apollo 8 crew never touched down on Earth's nearest neighbor.