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  The Space Race | Apollo 8's Accomplishments | Apollo 8's Risks
  Astronauts' Families


Astronauts' Families

'There was champagne at all three homes...' - The Cape Times; 'I'm emotionally drained.' - Susan Borman; 'Alan Anders, 11 years old, went fishing...' - The New York Times While the astronauts orbited the moon, their families listened to the mission's progress through specially-installed "squawk boxes" that piped air-to-ground communications into their homes. Members of the NASA community gathered to support crew members' families during the risky missions -- and the news media arrived as well, to document the reactions of wives and children.


Marilyn Lovell, wife of Apollo 8 Pilot James Lovell, watches the liftoff with her children The Washington Post, December 22, 1968

Mrs. Frank Borman stared at her television set, clenching and unclenching her fists, during the critical five minutes when Apollo 8 changed its course and blasted off to the moon.

The 4000 block of Bayou View Drive, where four astronauts live within a baseball's throw of each other, has undergone the trauma of launch six times previously, but none like this one. At one time or another today nine astronaut wives were in the Borman home.

"I'd love to make a beautiful and profound statement but I'm speechless. I'm emotionally drained," Mrs. Borman said.


The New York Times, December 25, 1968

Wives Relieved as Apollo Orbits

Valerie Anders talked about landing a man on the moon, Susan Borman had her hair done and Marilyn Lovell napped on Christmas Eve after watching their astronaut husbands send back a telecast of the moon's surface.

Mrs. Anders watched on a color television set in her den with Lieut. Col. David R. Scott, an astronaut, his wife and other friends. The set was a Christmas present from her husband, Maj. William A. Anders...

Mrs. Borman kept a beauty parlor appointment after waiting before dawn to learn if Apollo 8 had gone into orbit around the moon.

She sat alone in a breakfast nook -- head bowed, hands clasped in front of her and her ear next to the "squawk box" for 36 minutes until she heard Capt. James A. Lovell Jr.'s voice.

When she heard Captain Lovell's voice signifying the crew was all right, Mrs. Borman broke into a big smile and it widened when she heard the voice of her husband, Col. Frank Borman.

Alan Anders, 11 years old, went fishing in nearby Clear Lake with a rod and reel his father gave him for Christmas. The other children played in the back yard.


The Cape Times [Cape Town, South Africa], December 28, 1968

Johnson Phones Wives

...The President told the wives that the prayers of the whole country had contributed to the success of the flight. He said he expected to see the astronauts and their wives soon.

"Thank you, Mr. President," said Mrs. Borman. "I think it is a well deserved victory. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. Thank you very much."

Mrs. Lovell began her day with private communion at St. John's Episcopal Church.

A Mass was recited in the living room of the Anders home, just as it was on launch last Saturday.

Mrs. Frank Borman had the comfort of the Rev. James Buckner, from St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in League City, Texas, just as on Saturday.

There was champagne at all three homes, and friends, especially wives of other astronauts, arrived early with cakes.

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