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Fri Dec 21, 2018, 04:29 PM

On December 21, 1968 Apollo 8 Launches to the Moon


The Man Who Won the Moon Race
George Low’s idea to shoot for the moon in 1968 may have been Apollo’s boldest decision.

For its annual “Man of the Year” cover on January 3, 1969, Time magazine made the rare choice to honor not just one individual but three: NASA astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders. Their Christmastime lunar voyage on Apollo 8 had been, in the editors’ opinion, a “transcendent legacy” of 1968 and “a journey into man’s future.”

The magazine’s editors also called out for special recognition a single “groundling” from the 400,000 or so people working on Apollo at the time: a 42-year-old, Austrian-born NASA manager named George Low. The name was practically unknown to the public, but had it not been for Low, Time proclaimed, “there would have been no Apollo 8 flight to the moon.”

The editors could have gone further. Without Low, President John F. Kennedy may never have committed the nation to a lunar landing and once committed, may never have recovered from the Apollo 1 fire that had brought the program to a standstill less than two years before Apollo 8’s triumph.

Compared to Apollo-era giants like Wernher von Braun and Neil Armstrong, Low still remains mostly unrecognized. But his reputation has grown with time. “As usual with any great endeavor, it always boils down to a single human being who makes a difference,” Apollo 8 commander Frank Borman said during a panel discussion almost 50 years later. “In the case of Apollo, the person in my mind who made the difference was George Low.”

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Read more at https://www.airspacemag.com/space/apollo-8-george-low-profile-180970807/#5Gs5iEwwmg08PXHe.99

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