Astronaut William Anders, one of the first men to orbit the moon, died in a plane crash.

(CNN) — William “Bill” Anders, a NASA astronaut who was part of the Apollo 8 crew in 1968 and was one of the first three people to orbit the moon, died in a plane crash in Washington state, according to his son, Gregory Anders. He is 90 years old.

“My dad died in a plane crash in the San Juan Islands,” Anders told CNN Friday night.

A plane has crashed off the coast of Jones Island, the San Juan County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

Astronaut William Anders.  (Credit: NASA)

Astronaut William Anders. (Credit: NASA)

The sheriff's office said its dispatch center received an initial report at 11:40 a.m. that “an older model aircraft was flying north to south and then crashed into the water near the north end of Jones Island.”

“The family is devastated and saddened by the loss of a great driver,” Anders' son said.

The San Juan Islands are located about 90 miles (144 kilometers) north of Seattle.

William Anders took the iconic photograph known as “Earthrise” during the Apollo 8 mission.

This iconic image taken by Bill Anders on Apollo 8 shows Earth peeking out from beyond the lunar surface as the first manned spacecraft orbited the Moon with astronauts Anders, Frank Borman and Jim Lovell.  (William Anders/NASA)

This iconic image taken by Bill Anders on Apollo 8 shows Earth peeking out from beyond the lunar surface as the first manned spacecraft orbited the Moon with astronauts Anders, Frank Borman and Jim Lovell. (William Anders/NASA)

The US Coast Guard later announced that the pilot's body was recovered by dive crews after a multi-agency search covering 215 nautical miles and several hours.

Born in Hong Kong on Oct. 17, 1933, William Anders graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1955 and earned his pilot's wings the following year after being commissioned in the U.S. Air Force, according to the base Naval Academy website.

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According to NASA and the US Naval Academy, Anders served as a fighter pilot with Air Defense Command all-weather interceptor forces in California and Iceland.

While at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory in New Mexico, Anders was responsible for managing nuclear reactor safety and radiation effects programs, according to his NASA biography.

This text was originally published on June 7 and has been updated

Misty Tate

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