Former Apollo 8 astronaut dies in plane crash near Seattle

  08 June 2024    Read: 412
Former Apollo 8 astronaut dies in plane crash near Seattle

Former Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders died in a plane crash near Seattle late Friday at the age of 90, according to media reports.

Anders' death was confirmed by his son, Gregory Anders, who told CNN his "dad passed in an aircraft incident in the San Juan Islands," in Washington state, CNN reported.

"The family is devastated and grieving the loss of a great pilot," Gregory Anders said.

The incident occurred off the coast of Jones Island, according to the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, said CNN.

The dispatch center received a report around 11.40 a.m. (1840GMT) about the older model plane flying southward before it went down into the water near the north end of Jones Island and sank, the office added.

The US Coast Guard also announced that it conducted a search spanning 215 nautical miles (398 kilometers), ultimately recovering the pilot’s body with the help of a dive team.

William Anders was born on Oct. 17, 1933, in Hong Kong, graduating from the US Naval Academy in 1955, where he earned his pilot's wings the following year after being commissioned in the US Air Force.

He served as a fighter pilot in California and Iceland and managed nuclear power reactor shielding and radiation effects programs at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory in New Mexico, according to NASA.

Selected by NASA as an astronaut in 1964, Anders was a backup pilot for the Gemini 11 mission and the Apollo 11 flight, logging over 6,000 hours of flying time.

In December 1968, he orbited the moon aboard the Apollo 8 mission with Jim Lovell and Frank Borman, capturing the iconic "Earthrise" photo, which he described as a pivotal moment in human history. "We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth," he had said.

Beyond his space missions, Anders served as executive secretary for the National Aeronautics and Space Council in 1969-1973 and was appointed the first chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by President Gerald Ford.

Anders is survived by his wife, two daughters, and four sons. 

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