12/24/68 Apollo 8, Christmas Eve, orbit moon for the first time (Courtesy: NASA/CBS)
Apollo 8 returned to Earth on December 27th, 1968 after being the first space mission to carry humans beyond earth orbit.
Apollo 8 was launched into space on December 21st, 1968 onboard a Saturn V booster. It was the second manned Apollo flight to be launched. While Apollo 7 carried men only into Earth orbit, Apollo 8 carried men around the moon.
It did not carry a landing craft, but instead was a circum-lunar mission, taking the crew of Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders around the moon and back to Earth.
The mission was a complete success, and many watched live broadcasts from the mission on TV. It would be followed by Apollo 9, which would be an Earth-orbit mission to test the lunar module.