William Anders, Apollo 8 astronaut, killed in San Juan Islands plane crash

William Anders, famed for his 1968 Earthrise photo from NASA s Apollo 8 mission, tragically passed away in a plane crash on June 8.

The retired major general was piloting alone when his plane went down off the San Juan Islands in Washington state. He was 90 years old.

His son, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Greg Anders, confirmed the sad news, as reported by AP.

Anders, a graduate of the US Naval Academy and an Air Force pilot, joined NASA in 1963 as part of the third group of astronauts.

He was a crew member on the historic Apollo 8 mission, which launched on December 21, 1968, becoming the first crewed mission to venture beyond Earth's orbit and travel to the moon.

Alongside mission commander Frank Borman and James Lovell, Anders was the rookie on the crew, having previously flown with Borman on Gemini 7 and later commanding Apollo 13.

The mission, initially planned for 1969, was expedited due to concerns about Soviet plans. The crew had only a few months to prepare for the groundbreaking journey.

During the flight, Anders captured the iconic Earthrise photo, depicting Earth rising over the lunar horizon, symbolizing humanity's place in the vastness of space.