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I undertook a new voyage to a new Heaven and World . . .

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SO it seemed to Christopher Columbus in 1500. In the closing days of 1968, all mankind could exult in the vision of a new universe. For all its upheavals and frustrations, the year would be remembered to the end of time for the dazzling skills and Promethean daring that sent mortals around the moon. It would be celebrated as the year in which men saw at first hand their little earth entire, a remote, blue-brown sphere hovering like a migrant bird in the hostile night of space.

The year's transcendent legacy may well be that in Christmas week 1968, the human race glimpsed not a new continent or a new colony, but a new age, one that will inevitably reshape man's view of himself and his destiny. For what must surely rank as one of the greatest physical adventures in history was, unlike the immortal explorations of the past, infinitely more than a reconnaissance of geography or unknown elements. It was a journey into man's future, a hopeful but urgent summons, in Poet Archibald MacLeish's words, "to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold—brothers who know now they are truly brothers."

That realization may take a long time coming. Its harbinger, the odyssey of Apollo 8, was the product of centuries of scientific conjecture and experimentation. The mission's fantastic precision could never have been achieved without the creativity and dedication of the greatest task force ever assembled for a peaceful purpose: 300,000 engineers, technicians and workers, 20,000 contractors, backed by $33 billion spent on the nation's space effort in the past decade. Nor could Apollo's galactic galleon have ventured forth without the knowledge amassed by the earlier astronauts, from Alan Shepard and John Glenn on, who dared brutal hazards aboard relatively primitive craft in the laggard race to launch Americans into space. In large measure, too, the superb functioning of Apollo 8 was a result of heartbreak.

New Names for History

After the deaths of Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee, when Apollo 204 burned on its pad in January 1967, the translunar vehicle was extensively redesigned. Man's first voyage to the moon also bore the imprint of two farsighted Presidents: John F. Kennedy, who exhorted the nation to "set sail on this new sea," and Lyndon Johnson, who in more prosaic language insisted to Americans that "space is not a gambit, not a gimmick," but a realistic challenge that could not be evaded.

In the end, though, it was three lonely men who risked their lives and made the voyage. And in the course of that first soaring escape from the planet that was no longer the world, it was the courage, grace and cool proficiency of Colonel Frank Borman, Captain James Lovell and Major William Anders that transfixed their fellowmen and inscribed on the history books names to be remembered along with those of Marco Polo and Amundsen, Captain Cook and Colonel Lindbergh. In 147 hours that stretched like a lifetime, America's moon pioneers became the indisputable Men of the Year.

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