Astronaut's best wishes for HK space tourist

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 March, 2006, 12:00am

Socialite Perveen Crawford has been given the best wishes of Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders in her bid to become Hong Kong's first space tourist.

In an e-mail to the Sunday Morning Post, the former US Air Force major-general wished Mrs Crawford 'the very best of luck'. Mrs Crawford, due to take off for space aboard Virgin Galactic in 2008 replied that she was 'honoured and very proud' to receive best wishes from the ex-Nasa astronaut.

Although it was suggested that she would be Hong Kong's first astronaut, the honour technically falls to Anders, who was born in Hong Kong in 1933, the son of an American naval officer on the Yangtze River Patrol.

Anders, Frank Borman and Jim Lovell became the first astronauts to orbit the moon in 1968. He was the lunar module pilot for the Apollo 8 mission, the first flight to another body in the solar system.

The flight was to prove historic for another reason. During lunar orbit, while Anders was taking images of the surface of the moon, the shuttle emerged from the far side to reveal the dawn of planet Earth. 'Oh my God! Look at that picture over there! Here's the Earth coming up,' commander Frank Borman famously exclaimed to mission control, and Anders, camera in hand, duly snapped the famous 'Earthrise' photograph, later voted one of the most significant and powerful images of the 20th century by Time, Life and American Photography magazines.

Meanwhile, Mrs Crawford has been showered with praise since her plans were reported two weeks ago in the Sunday Morning Post. 'After the article I was afraid everyone would think I was nuts, so I am very glad to receive congratulations from so many people,' she said. But she admits her husband continues to question her mental health for daring to go.