Jim Lovell in the Command Module

In Their Own Words: Jim Lovell on Seeing the Moon

Astronaut Jim Lovell In the Command Module Simulator
Astronaut Frank Borman
Portrait Of Astronaut William A. Anders

James A. Lovell is an astronaut who served on the Apollo 8 and Apollo 13 moon missions and helped make important discoveries in space exploration.

"It amazed me that they could actually predict to the second when would we lose communication. Loss of signal is only because the moon is between us and the earth. It only takes about 28 minutes to go around to the near side and we would have a signal again. The first time we started to go around, we are in complete darkness and at that particular time all the stars came out because normally going to the moon on a flight you either have earthshine, sunlight, or moonshine, or something that would affect your eyes that you really can't see stars. And then all that came out. We're like three school kids looking into a candy store window.

We didn't see the moon right away. Even at that time they said you're going behind the moon, but we saw nothing until we rotated the spacecraft around and, finally, just about 60 miles below was some of those ancient craters of the lunar surface. And I think we forgot the flight plan right away, to tell the truth. We all looked down there, we all had our noses pressed to the window trying to see those ancient craters as they slowly passed by us. This is the first time we've seen them live.

The three of us were thrilled to see the far side, to get into lunar orbit. We knew that things had to happen to get us back home again, but then curiosity comes into effect. The first thing we did, we came out of that dark part of the moon, we got into sunlight, and we saw the shadows first of all—there's a lot of shadows on the craters. There's no atmosphere, so there is no dispersal of light and then of course we saw a couple of things in the far side that were really impressive. One was this large crater called Sea of Koski which was actually named by the Russians before we got there because of a camera that they had sent around. Then we saw a lot of small craters which we could see where it looked like a pickax hit concrete and just spewed out all the dust and all the small holes and then we were looking for bigger craters that we recognized, some of the things that we have seen on the maps that we had beforehand. We named them as it came around to the near-side."