William Anders is a former United States Air Force officer, NASA astronaut, businessman, and engineer. He is also one of the first three people to have left Earth orbit and traveled to the Moon. He was born William Alison Anders on October 17, 1933 in Hong Kong. As a child, he was active in the Boy Scouts of America and achieved its second highest rank, Life Scout. Anders graduated from Grossmont High School in La Mesa, California. After receiving his high school diploma, he was accepted into the United States Naval Academy. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1955, and married Valerie Hoard that same year. After graduating from the Naval Academy, Anders served in the United States Air Force as a fighter pilot in all-weather interceptor squadrons of the Air Defense Command. After his time with the Air Force, Anders went on to earn a Master of Science degree in nuclear engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in 1962.
In 1963, Anders was selected by NASA in the third group of astronauts. His first assignment was as the backup pilot for the Gemini XI mission. In 1968, he was chosen to be the lunar module pilot for the Apollo 8 mission, which was the first manned lunar orbit mission. After his successful return to Earth, he served as backup command module pilot for the Apollo 11 mission. He has logged more than 6,000 hours of flight time.
In 1969, Anders was offered the position of executive secretary for the National Aeronautics and Space Council. He was responsible to the president, vice president and Cabinet-level members of the Council for developing policy options concerning research, development, operations and planning of aeronautical and space systems. In 1973, Anders was appointed to the five-member Atomic Energy Commission as lead commissioner for nuclear and non-nuclear power R&D. He was also appointed as US chairman of the joint US/USSR technology exchange program. Two years later, President Ford named Anders the first chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is responsible for nuclear safety and environmental compatibility. His final position with the federal government was ambassador to Norway.
In 1977, after his resignation from the US government, Anders joined General Electric as vice president and general manager of their Nuclear Products Division. He was responsible for the manufacture of nuclear fuel and reactor internal equipment. He also oversaw GE’s partnership with Chicago Bridge and Iron for making large steel pressure vessels. In August 1979, Anders was sent to attend Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program, and was appointed general manager of the General Electric Aircraft Equipment Division a year later. In 1984, he left GE to join Textron as executive vice president for aerospace. In 1990, Anders became vice chairman of General Dynamics, and was soon promoted to both chairman and CEO positions. He retired in 1993 but continued as chairman until May 1994. On June 27, 2009 Anders was a guest of the first World Moon Bounce Day. His interview was bounced off the moon by radio signals and back to earth as part of the activities. Anders currently lives in Washington State with his wife and six children.