1968 was a horrible year for the US - riots, assassinations and a sense of almost total despair over Vietnam. But one decision 'saved' the year: the decision by NASA's George Low to make Apollo 8 a moon mission. It was a high risk strategy - man hadn't yet left earth's orbit, and the crew of Borman, Lovell and Anders would be heading for lunar orbit without any kind of lifeboat in space since the lunar module was not yet ready for space.
Apollo 8 took off 41 years ago today. The world really woke up to the final stages of the US race for the moon when the crew sent back their first pictures of the earth - a small shining bauble hanging in the vast blackness of space.
And in a way that simply wouldn't be countenanced in today's PC world, the three crew members struck exactly the right note of awe and wonder as they read the opening verses of the Bible's Book of Genesis in a Christmas Eve Broadcast as they orbited the moon.
The television broadcast gained, at the time, the highest global viewing figure in TV history. The space race was finally a global event: a world united in wonder.