Astronaut who led first orbit of the moon Frank Borman has died at 95

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 13:  Apollo 8 crew member Frank Borman speaks during a live taping of a NASA TV program at the Newseum November 13, 2008 in Washington, DC. The former astronauts participated in a discussion on the December 1968 lunar orbital mission and how the success of Apollo 8 contributed to the overall moon landing effort that culminated just six months later with Apollo 11 and to commemorate NASA's 50th anniversary.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

BILLINGS, Mont. — Astronaut Frank Borman who was the commander of the Apollo 8 mission, has died at the age of 95.

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Borman passed away on Tuesday in Billings, Montana, according to NASA.

“Today we remember one of NASA’s best. Astronaut Frank Borman was a true American hero. Among his many accomplishments, he served as the commander of the Apollo 8 mission, humanity’s first mission around the Moon in 1968. His lifelong love for aviation and exploration was only surpassed by his love for his wife Susan, ” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

“His love of flying proved essential through his positions as a fighter pilot, operational pilot, test pilot, and assistant professor. His exceptional experience and expertise led him to be chosen by NASA to join the second group of astronauts,” Nelson said.

Borman was best known for the work he did with NASA, The Associated Press reported. Borman, James Lovell and Williams Anders were the first Apollo mission to fly to the moon. The group spent three days traveling to the moon.

The Apollo 8 orbited the lunar surface 10 times and flew about 10 miles above the surface, the New York Times reported.

Borman never stepped on his own but he did fly into space twice, the Times said. He retired from NASA and the Air Force in 1970 but remained as chairman of Eastern Airlines.

On Christmas Eve, the group did a broadcast by reading from the Book of Genesis from the orbiter, according to the AP.

“In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

“And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you — all of you on the good Earth,” Borman said at the end of the broadcast, according to the AP.

“Frank knew the power exploration held in uniting humanity when he said, ‘Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.’ His service to NASA and our nation will undoubtedly fuel the Artemis Generation to reach new cosmic shores,” Nelson said.

Borman was born on March 14, 1928, in Gary, Indiana, the Times reported. His love for aviation started when he was just 5 years old when he visited Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. His family moved to Tucson, Arizona. He built model airplanes and got a pilot license by the time he turned 15.

Borman went to West Point just after World War II ended and graduated in 1950, the Times reported. He became an Air Force fight pilot. He got a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1957. He went on to become a test pilot and helped to create spaceflight testing programs at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

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