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Frank Borman

Frank Borman was Commander of both Gemini 7 and Apollo 8. On the latter flight, Borman, along with Jim Lovell and Bill Anders, became the first people to lay eyes on the back side of the moon.

On Gemini 7: "Well, the Gemini capsule was about the size of the front seat of an old Volkswagen Beetle, a little bit smaller than that."
Well, the Gemini capsule was about the size of the front seat of an old Volkswagen Beetle, a little bit smaller than that, and Lovell and I were able to spend two weeks there, basically because we had had a sense of mission, we wanted to go two weeks. Also, Lovell's a great guy and very easy to get along with. So, we made it all right. It was uncomfortable toward the end when we were out of attitude control fuel, we were just drifting, rolling through space. The last three days were very, very long and tiring. Zero G was our greatest friend; it kept you from getting saddle sores. I think without Zero G, I don't believe you could've spent two weeks in that place.

On Apollo 8: "They wanted to know if I thought we could change our mission and take Apollo 8 and go to the moon. And that's how it all started."

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I got a call to come back and see Slayton now in Houston. And I went back there and he told me that they had heard from the CIA that the Soviets were planning a circumlunar flight before the end of the year. They wanted to know if I thought we could change our mission and take Apollo 8 and go to the moon. And that's how it all started. Any idea that the Apollo program was a great voyage of exploration or scientific endeavor is nuts. That wasn't the primary mission; the primary mission was to go to the moon ahead of the Russians and meet the President's mandate. The real reason that I was in the program, and the real reason that the program existed, was because it was a battle in the Cold War, and we started from behind and we won; it's as simple as that.

On Apollo 8: "Well, you don't get claustrophobic in my mind because it's a womb and you're happy in the womb."

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It's like a submarine in the respect that everything good is inside and everything bad is outside. People ask you why don't you get claustrophobic? Well, you don't get claustrophobic in my mind because it's a womb and you're happy in the womb. And everything outside is forbidden.

On Apollo 8: "And I remember the awe that I had for the people that had done all those calculations."

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One of the things that would tell us if were on track or not was a certain point in the flight plan, when we'd look down and see the sunrise impacting the lunar surface. And I remember the awe that I had for the people that had done all those calculations. At the exact second we were supposed to see it, there it was ... It was a clear indication to us that everything was in good shape.

On the dark side of the moon: "Well, it was very rough, it was distraught."

Hear Borman via RealAudio
Well, it was very rough, it was distraught. I think Jim described it as looking like dirty beach sand. To me, it looked more like the burned-out gray ashes of a barbecue. But, of course, people have been there, you can ask them, and they'll tell you exactly what it was like. It was a sobering sight, but it didn't have the impact on me, at least, as the view of the Earth did.

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Photo: NASA



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