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Frank Borman, Apollo 8 astronaut who orbited the moon, dies at age 95

Frank Borman, an astronaut who flew on the Apollo 8 mission that orbited the moon, has died, NASA announced. He was 95.

Borman died Tuesday in Billings, Montana, according to NASA.

NASA administrator Bill Nelson, in a statement, called Borman “one of NASA’s best” and “a true American hero.” “His lifelong love for aviation and exploration was only surpassed by his love for his wife Susan,” Nelson added.

Apollo 8, launched in 1968, was the first NASA mission to both leave low Earth orbit and reach the moon. Borman, along with astronauts James Lovell, and William Anders, orbited the moon 10 times before returning to Earth. They were the first humans ever to see the far side of the moon. “Earthrise,” the iconic photograph showing the Earth half-covered in shadow above the moon’s horizon, was taken by Anders during this mission.

A decade later, Borman was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor for his role in the mission.

Borman was born in Gary, Indiana, and raised in Tucson, Arizona.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Military Academy in 1950, the same year he began his career in the Air Force.

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

Prior to the Apollo program, Borman was part of the Gemini 7 flight in 1965. In that mission, he and Lovell orbited the Earth 206 times over the course of nearly 14 days and, along with Gemini 6, were part of NASA’s first rendezvous in space.

Borman was also a member of the Apollo 204 Fire Investigation Board, which investigated the fire that sparked aboard Apollo 1 during a launch rehearsal, killing astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger B. Chaffee.

Borman retired from the Air Force in 1970 and went on to become senior vice president for operations of Eastern Airlines, which he had joined in 1969 as a special advisor. He would rise through the ranks of the company, eventually becoming CEO in 1975.

Borman also served on the boards of numerous companies, including Home Depot and National Geographic. He also served as CEO of Patlex Corporation from 1988 to 1996.

In addition to numerous awards, he was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1993. A section of Interstate 94 between Lake Station, Indiana, and the Illinois state line was named the Frank Borman Expressway in his honor.

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