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Apollo 8

Apollo 8 was an Apollo mission sent by Americans to orbit the Moon in 1968. (PROSE: Three Wise Men)

The Seventh Doctor knew it was preparing to be launched on 20 December 1968. Bernice Summerfield was pleased with "early spaceflight" and said it was like a "sightseeing holiday" (PROSE: The Left-Handed Hummingbird) The launch vehicle had taken lift-off from Kennedy Space Center on 21 December while attached to a Saturn V rocket; it was the first shuttle to orbit the Moon.

The vessel was crewed by Mission Commander Colonel Frank Borman, Lieutenant Colonel William Anders and Captain Jim Lovell. After sixty-six hours of travel, the shuttle had perfectly positioned itself for Lunar Orbital Insertion. 25 minutes before the important manoeuvre, the team lost contact with Houston. Despite this, they were able to execute the operation perfectly, leaving them in the precise orbit needed. (PROSE: Three Wise Men)

Eye on the Future did a live report about Apollo 8 that delayed The Identikit Man. The Second Doctor and Zoe Heriot discussed the programme in the home of Flora Millrace in 1968. (PROSE: The Avant Guardian)

On 24 December 1968, Anders went to retrieve camera equipment to photograph the lunar surface, he was shocked to discover a non-notified parcel with a stamp labelled "UNIT". Directly after this, Anders was shocked to discover that a face was gleaming at him from outside of one of their hatches. All three passengers noticed the figure and were awestruck not only by him being anywhere near them in deep space, but also by him being able to enter the shuttle without causing the vacuum of space to rip them into space.

The figure was the Fourth Doctor, who had opened an air corridor between the two moving shuttles. The Doctor invited the three back to the TARDIS, which was decorated with stacks of Christmas presents. The Doctor explained that his ship was in need of repair, and that he had pulled the three aside from their historic mission to deliver the tools to fix the ship. The three astronauts discovered that they each had mysterious packages in their suits, and upon gifting these to the Time Lord he began immediately working on his ship, asking them to return to their mission.

Back in Apollo 8, the group then questioned how they would relay this information to Houston. The team initially believed that the ship's recordings would prove that they had not made the story up, but as the Doctor left he also reversed time to before the recording had captured his arrival. This meant that there was no proof of their alien encounter other than their own memories. Noting that claiming to have met an alien would likely ruin their careers and tarnish the reputation of NASA, all three agreed to keep this element of their voyage a secret. Back on track, Anders left to retrieve his camera equipment. (PROSE: Three Wise Men)

Apollo 8 returned 380 kilograms of lunar rocks to Earth. (PROSE: Moon Blink)

Behind the scenes[]

In real life, Apollo 8 did not collect lunar rocks as it only orbited the Moon. 382 kilograms of lunar rocks were brought back by Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17. (The novel Moon Blink does concern itself with fictional secrets of moon missions in the DWU.)