Who Was The First To Celebrate Christmas In Space?
Answer: The Apollo 8 Astronauts
The Apollo 8 space mission, manned by Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders, launched on December 21, 1968. The crew spent three days traveling to the Moon and began orbiting it on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968.
The mission was full of firsts for humanity and space exploration. The Apollo 8 crew members were the first humans to leave low-Earth orbit, they were the first humans to travel to and orbit the Moon. In addition to that, their Christmas Eve broadcast back to Earth was, for its time, the most watched television broadcast of all time.
Thanks to the timing of the mission they were also the first humans afforded the chance to celebrate Christmas in space. Unbeknownst to the crew, Mission Control had stashed both a Christmas feast and presents aboard the space craft. On Christmas Day the crew was instructed to open a package in the food locker; the package contained turkey, stuffing, and other traditional Christmas dinner treats. Along with the food there were small gifts from the Astronauts’ families. The crew opened all the gifts save for the three small bottles of brandy Flight Director Deke Slayton had smuggled onboard for them. As the men were already exhausted from their space travel, they opted to leave the bottles unopened. The unopened bottles went on to become highly sought after by collectors; Lovell sold his almost $18,000 at auction some years later.