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William Anders, a former astronaut famous for capturing the iconic Earthrise photo, died in a plane crash in Washington

Apollo 8 Lunar Module Pilot Gen. William Anders (Barry West/Shutterstock)

William Anders, a former astronaut from Apollo 8 who took the famous “Earthrise” photo showing our planet as a shadowed blue marble from space in 1968, died on Friday in a plane crash in Washington state’s San Juan Islands. He was 90 years old.

His son, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Greg Anders, confirmed the tragic news to The Associated Press, stating, “The family is devastated. He was a great pilot and we will miss him terribly.”

William Anders, also a retired major general, considered the “Earthrise” photo as his most significant contribution to the space program, alongside ensuring the Apollo 8 command and service modules functioned properly.

This photograph, the first color image of Earth from space, holds immense historical importance for reshaping human perspectives of our planet.

Frank Borman, William Anders and James Lovell Jr. (Barry West/Shutterstock)

It played a pivotal role in sparking the global environmental movement by revealing Earth’s delicate and solitary appearance from afar.

Former NASA Administrator and Senator Bill Nelson remarked that Anders embodied the essence and goals of exploration. “He journeyed to the edge of the Moon and showed us something more: ourselves,” Nelson expressed on the social platform X.

Anders captured the iconic image during Apollo 8’s fourth orbit around the Moon, quickly switching from black-and-white to color film. “Oh my God, look at that picture over there!” Anders exclaimed. “There’s the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty!”

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