Apollo 8 Astronaut William Anders Dead at 90 After Crashing Plane

William Anders

William Anders, a former Apollo 8 astronaut, is dead at 90.

William's son, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Greg Anders, confirmed his death to the Associated Press.

“The family is devastated,” he told the publication. “He was a great pilot and we will miss him terribly.”

At approximately 11:40 a.m. on Friday, June 7, a plane crashed into the water and sank near Jones Island in San Juan County, Wash., KING-TV reported. Greg confirmed that William's body was recovered that afternoon, and he was the only person on board the Beech A45 airplane.

The National Transportation Safety Board and FAA are investigating the incident.

William was most well-known for taking the iconic "Earthrise" photo, which showed the first color image of the Earth from space. He snapped the picture during the Apollo 8 crew's fourth orbit of the moon in 1968. In December of that year, the spacecraft became the first human flight to travel to the moon and back.

“We’d been going backwards and upside down, didn’t really see the Earth or the Sun, and when we rolled around and came around and saw the first Earthrise,” William said of the photo during a NASA oral history interview.

He continued: “That certainly was, by far, the most impressive thing. To see this very delicate, colorful orb which to me looked like a Christmas tree ornament coming up over this very stark, ugly lunar landscape really contrasted.”

NASA administrator and former Sen. Bill Nelson reacted to the news of William's death via X, writing of his lifetime contributions “He traveled to the threshold of the Moon and helped all of us see something else: ourselves."

“Bill Anders forever changed our perspective of our planet and ourselves with his famous Earthrise photo on Apollo 8,” Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly, a fellow retired NASA astronaut, wrote via X. “He inspired me and generations of astronauts and explorers. My thoughts are with his family and friends.”

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