Nasa ‘Earth’ astronaut dies aged 90 in plane crash

Getty ImagesAnders in a spacesuitbeautiful images

Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, who took one of the most famous photos taken in space, has died at the age of 90.

Officials said a small plane he was piloting crashed into the ocean north of Seattle, Washington.

Anders’ son Greg confirmed that his father was flying the small plane and that his body was found on Friday afternoon.

“The family is devastated. He was a great pilot. He will be missed by everyone,” a statement from the family read.

Anders – who served as a lunar module pilot on the Apollo 8 mission – took the iconic Earthrise photo, one of the most memorable and inspiring images of Earth from space .

Taken on Christmas Eve during the 1968 mission, the first crewed space flight to leave Earth and reach the Moon, the photo shows the planet rising above the horizon from the barren lunar surface barren.

Anders later described this as his most important contribution to the space program.

NASA's Earth juts out behind the Moon in the iconic photoNasa

This image is said to have fueled the global environmental movement and led to the creation of Earth Day, an annual event that promotes activism and awareness about caring for the planet.

Speaking about this moment, Anders said: “We went all the way to explore the Moon and the most important thing we discovered was the Earth.”

Officials said on Friday that Anders crashed his plane at around 11:40PDT (1940BST).

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the 90-year-old man was flying a Beechcraft AA 45 – also known as the T-34. The agency said the plane crashed about 80ft (25m) off the coast of Jones Island.

Witness Philip Person said King-TV in Seattle that he witnessed the accident.

He told the network that the plane began doing what appeared to be a loop and reversed.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing before my eyes,” Person told the local news station. “It looked like something out of a movie or special effects. With the big explosion, the flames and everything.”

Footage said to have captured the plane crash appears to show a last-second attempt to resurface, before it broke the surface and became a burning wreck.

BBC News has not verified the video.

Anders also served as backup pilot for the Apollo 11 mission, the name of the effort that led to the first Moon landing on July 24, 1969.

After Anders retired from the space program in 1969, the former astronaut worked primarily in the aerospace industry for several decades. He also served as United States Ambassador to Norway for a year in the 1970s.

But he is best remembered for the Apollo 8 mission and the iconic photo he took from space.

“In 1968, on Apollo 8, Bill Anders gave humanity one of the most profound gifts an astronaut could give. He traveled to the doorstep of the Moon and helped us all. we see something else: ourselves,” Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson said in a speech. declare.

Mark Kelly, a former astronaut who now serves as a U.S. Senator for Arizona, said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that Anders “has inspired me and generations of astronauts.” adventurer and adventurer. My thoughts are with his family and friends.” .

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