Apollo 8: Leaving the Cradle

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3-DVD set covering mankind's first voyage beyond Earth orbit. Features the complete television transmissions and onboard film, preparation, launch, recovery.

Region 0 (worldwide) – Total running time over 4 hours


The December 1968 journey of the Apollo 8 crew into lunar orbit verified the essential elements of the Apollo-Saturn system, and at the same time gave man a view of the Earth that will live through the ages. For many of us, the Apollo 8 mission and broadcasts will always hold a special significance in the history of space exploration.

This unique three-disc set features the television transmissions from Apollo 8, along with rare footage of preparation, launch, all the onboard footage, and recovery. You’ll come to know the mission as never before, and take an extraordinary look at the voyage when man left the cradle of the Earth.

– Complete in-flight television transmissions, including the Christmas Eve Genesis reading
– Complete 16mm onboard film footage
– Astronaut commentary from post-flight debriefing
– Rare onboard voice recordings
– Spectacular multi-angle launch footage
– Crew preparation, Saturn V rollout, pad operations and more!


The Apollo 8 mission was the first time human beings had ventured outside of Earth orbit. Mission objectives included a successful journey and return from the Earth to lunar orbit, testing of then Apollo spacecraft and communication at lunar distances, and photography of the lunar surface.

Centrifuge – October 1968 centrifuge runs with the prime crew to familiarize them with accelerations expected during flight. Audio is from the post-flight crew debriefing.

Altitude Chamber – The prime crew in an altitude chamber run with their spacecraft. No audio.

To The White Room – A unique astronaut-view walkthrough from the base of the launcher to the white room, the route the crew took to board the spacecraft on launch day. Audio commentary from the post-flight debrief.

Countdown Demonstration Test – Suitup and transfer to pad during the pre-launch countdown demonstration test. Audio is from post-flight debriefing.

Deluge Test – Pad 39a featured a water deluge system to protect hardware from the heat and flame of a Saturn V launch. This is a test of the system prior to Apollo 8. Audio is from post-flight debriefing.

Rollout – Transport of the Apollo 8 vehicle from the VAB to Pad 39a. Audio is from natural sound of the crawler/transporter, recorded digitally by Peter Armstrong and used by permission.

Pad Operations – Preparation for the first manned flight of a Saturn V. Audio is from post flight debriefing.

To The Moon
Static Launch Views – 5 angles of the Apollo 8 launch. Audio is air to ground and public affairs officer. Surround.

Tracking Launch Views – 3 angles of the Apollo 8 launch. Audio is from the flight director’s loop and continues through SECO. Surround.

Pad Camera Views – 4 angles of the Apollo 8 launch. Audio is natural vehicle sound. Surround.

Coming Home – Recovery of Apollo 8. Splashdown occurred in pre-dawn darkness. Audio is from onboard recorder during entry, air to ground transmissions during entry, and President Johnson’s call to the crew after splashdown.

Chapter Stops

Countdown Demonstration

Chapter 1 – Suiting up
Chapter 2 – To the van
Chapter 3 – At the pad

Deluge Test

Chapter 1 – Flame trench
Chapter 2 – Overall
Chapter 3 – From the tower
Chapter 4 – Level zero


Chapter 1 – Target
Chapter 2 – Emerging
Chapter 3 – Straightaway
Chapter 4 – Turn to the pad
Chapter 5 – 39a
Chapter 6 – Locking down

Coming Home

Chapter 1 – Standing by
Chapter 2 – Pre-dawn
Chapter 3 – Sunup
Chapter 4 – Hatch open
Chapter 5 – Into the raft
Chapter 6 – CM recovery
Chapter 7 – Washington appearances
Chapter 8 – President Johnson
Chapter 9 – Parade
Chapter 10 – Join Session
Chapter 11 – National Air and Space Museum

Selected Acronyms

CMS – Command Module Simulator
DAP – Digital Auto Pilot
EMS – Entry Monitor System
FDO – (FIDO) Flight Dynamics Officer
IMU – Inertial Measurement Unit
PTC – Passive Thermal Control
RCS – Reaction Control System


Disc 2┬ácontains the complete television transmissions from the Apollo 8 spacecraft – 6 in all. Apollo 8’s television camera was a 4.5 pound RCA black and white camera. There was no monitor or viewfinder on the camera – so framing the picture was done by dead reckoning.

Two lenses were carried, 160 degree field-of-view and 9 degree field-of-view. The Apollo 8 television transmissions were conducted with a power of just 20 watts, and were received in Goldstone, California and Madrid, Spain.

TV Transmission #1 took place on Sunday, December 22nd, 1968, at 31:08 ground elapsed time. At this point the spacecraft was approximately halfway between the Earth and the Moon. This transmission shows the interior of the spacecraft with an attempt to show views of the Earth. Trouble with the telephoto lens prevented good pictures of Earth. Audio is air to ground with the flight director’s loop. (13:50)

TV Transmission #2, on Monday, December 23rd, showed the Earth from a distance of 180,000 miles. Audio is air to ground with flight director’s loop. 55:07 GET. (21:52)

TV Transmission #3, the first of two transmissions on Christmas Eve, gave television audiences their first close up views of the lunar surface. During this transmission, the spacecraft was in a 168.8 x 59.9 nautical mile orbit of the Moon. Audio from air to ground and the flight director’s loop. 71:40 GET. (12:40)

TV Transmission #4, the second Christmas Eve broadcast, and the most famous, again showed views of the lunar surface. During this transmission, Apollo 8 was orbiting the moon at 60.7 x 59.7 nautical miles. The broadcast ends with a reading from the book of Genesis and a historic sign-off from the first travelers to another world. Audio is air to ground and flight director’s loop. 85:41 GET. (25:20)

TV Transmission #5, on Christmas Day. This transmission occurred after the successful trans-Earth injection burn which put the spacecraft on course for home. The broadcast shows the interior of the spacecraft. Audio is air to ground and flight director’s loop. 104:24 GET. (10:00)

TV Transmission #6, Thursday, December 26th, 1968, 128:01 GET. From the day before the return to Earth. Shots of Earth. Air to ground and flight director audio. (4:20)

Chapter Stops

Transmission #1

Chapter 1 – On Camera
Chapter 2 – Standing on their heads
Chapter 3 – Trying to shoot the Earth
Chapter 4 – Back inside
Chapter 5 – Out the window
Chapter 6 – Chocolate pudding
Chapter 7 – Toothbrush
Chapter 8 – Happy Birthday, Mother!

Transmission #2

Chapter 1 – We’ve got TV now.
Chapter 2 – Earth in the window
Chapter 3 – Our home
Chapter 4 – Colors of the Earth
Chapter 5 – 180,000 miles
Chapter 6 – If I were a lonely traveler.
Chapter 7 – Shall we ask about the moon?
Chapter 8 – Wrapping up

Transmission #3

Chapter 1 – First TV from lunar orbit
Chapter 2 – Dirty beach sand
Chapter 3 – Bassett and See
Chapter 4 – Collins
Chapter 5 – Target area

Transmission #4

Chapter 1 – We’ve got a picture, Apollo 8
Chapter 2 – Small, bright craters
Chapter 3 – Bombarded through the eons
Chapter 4 – Sea of Crises
Chapter 5 – Rille
Chapter 6 – Crew of Apollo 8 has a message.

Transmission #5

Chapter 1 – There, we got it
Chapter 2 – Lovell excercises
Chapter 3 – Christmas dinner
Chapter 4 – Navigator Lovell

Transmission #6

Chapter 1 – Apollo 8, Houston
Chapter 2 – Earth is getting bigger.



This disc contains the complete 16mm motion picture film exposed onboard the Apollo 8 spacecraft. In addition to footage of life aboard the spacecraft, incredible views of the moon from lunar orbit were captured. This was the first time human beings had orbited the moon, and our views up to this point consisted of grainy black and white photos transmitted from unmanned probes.

Outside of the safe and successful completion of a lunar orbit mission, photography was one of the key goals of Apollo 8. A total of 11 130-foot motion picture magazines were carried on the flight. As it turned out, 6 were exposed.

The onboard film on this disc is accompanied by rare audio commentary, providing unique glimpses into the flight, taken from the air to ground transmissions, post-flight debriefings, and the onboard voice recorder.

Magazine H – Taken just after trans-lunar injection, a few hours after liftoff. Shows the Earth and the third stage of the Saturn after separation, along with some views of the lunar surface. Audio is air to ground transmission from TLI and separation.

Magazine I – Lunar surface views. Audio commentary is from the post flight photo debriefing with Bill Anders.

Magazine J – Lunar surface views. Audio is air to ground transmissions from lunar orbit insertion and trans-Earth injection.

Magazine K – Lunar surface views and interior spacecraft. Audio is from the onboard recorder during the burn which placed the spacecraft into lunar orbit. Since the burn took place while on the far side, no communication with Earth was possible at the time.

Magazine Q – Lunar surface views. Audio is from the onboard recorder during the taking of the famous “earthrise” photographs.

Magazine R – Interior spacecraft – Audio commentary is from the post flight debriefing on navigation with Jim Lovell.

Chapter Stops

Magazine H

Chapter 1 – Our home
Chapter 2 – S-IVB third stage
Chapter 3 – Nearest neighbor
Chapter 4 – Sextant views

Magazine I

Chapter 1 – Desolate surface
Chapter 2 – Red filter – Earth and Moon

Magazine J

Chapter 1 – Surface
Chapter 2 – Sextant views

Magazine K

Chapter 1 – Flying over the moon
Chapter 2 – Photographer Anders
Chapter 3 – Aboard Apollo 8

Magazine R

Chapter 1 – Home movies
Chapter 2 – Borman
Chapter 3 – Lovell
Chapter 4 – The Navigator


Thanks to Andrew Chaikin for his contribution of rare audio for this set. Thanks to Kipp Teague and J.L. Pickering. Thanks to Rodney Grubbs of the Marshall Space Flight Center, Benny Cheney of the Johnson Space Center and the National Archives at College Park, MD. Film to tape transfers were made at JSC, Houston, Bono Film and Video, Arlington, VA, Video Post and Transfer, Dallas, TX, and VTI, Houston.

Additional information

Weight .6 lbs

Product Video