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Michael Collins of Apollo 11 reports on the crew's three-week quarantine on their return from the moon



The world was pleased when Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins splashed safely in the Pacific on July 24, 1969, after their incredible journey to the moon.

Raided by USS Hornet helicopters, the three astronauts were greeted by President Richard Nixon, who was awaiting her return aboard the aircraft carrier.

For Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, however, their return from the moon still represented a step into the unknown.

APOLLO 11: 50 years later, the world celebrates the moon landing

Scientists were worried that the crewmembers might have returned pathogens from the moon with them, they immediately entered a Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF), a converted Airstream trailer waiting for them on the USS Hornet.

  An inside view of the Mobile Quarantine Facility shows the Apollo 11 crew arriving at their arrival at Ellington Air Force Base. Mission Commander Neil Armstrong jingles on a ukulele while Michael Collins (right foreground) and Buzz Aldrin (right background) look out the window. The other people in the picture are MQF employees.

An inside view of the mobile quarantine facility shows the Apollo 11 crew on arrival at Ellington Air Force Base. Mission Commander Neil Armstrong jingles on a ukulele while Michael Collins (right foreground) and Buzz Aldrin (right background) look out the window. The other people in the picture are employees of the MQF.
(NASA)

The MQF with the astronauts was taken off the USS Hornet at Pearl Harbor and taken to Hickam Air Force Base, where it was loaded onto a Jet Air Force C-141 jetliner and served by Ellington Air Force Base in Houston. From there, the astronauts were taken to the more spacious rooms of the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center. However, they were still very much in quarantine.

In addition to NASA personnel, the astronauts at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory had a large group of rookie roommates carefully monitored for signs of germs returned from the Moon.

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"We had a huge colony of white mice," Collins told Fox News. "The three of us had gone to the moon – that was either a national, international, triumph or it was a total disaster, depending on the health of the white mice we had."

  President Nixon speaks with the Apollo 11 astronaut in their Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF) at the USS Hornet.

President Nixon speaks with the Apollo 11 astronauts in their Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF) at the USS Hornet.
(NASA)

"When the mice were alive, everything was fine," he added.

After traveling hundreds of thousands of miles to and from the Moon, at least now, the three astronauts were not going anywhere for a while.

APOLLO 11 ASTRONAUT MICHAEL COLLINS REMINDS OF DRINKING COFFEE DURING THE 'ONLY' & # 39; MONDS

"Although all three astronauts were veterans of previous missions, there had not been so much time spent on space travel and post-mission activities had never been conducted under strict conditions," NASA's History Office explains. "Thus, the quarantine was quickly depressing, especially since only sparse provisions for recovery had been made. There was an exercise room and a ping pong table, and they could read or watch TV or talk to their families, but it was not like they were at home.

  The MQF wore the Apollo 11 crew. It will be shown being transported to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.

The MQF with the Apollo 11 crew is transported to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.
(NASA / Marshall Spaceflight Center / National Archives and Records Administration)

Less than a week after their return from outer space, NASA asked the astronauts how their time would be in the reception lab. Armstrong's "noncommittal" response was that it has "worked as you expect". Understandably, Collins said, "I want to get out," according to the space agency's history bureau.

Fortunately, the mouse colony had no negative effects, and the astronauts were finally released from quarantine on August 10, 1969. [19659003] APOLLO 11'S MICHAEL COLLINS REFLECTS THE HISTORICAL MOON LANDING: "WE WERE ONLY REGULAR ASTRONAUTS"

Half a century later, Collins, now a vivacious 88-year-old, told Fox News that the Quarantine period "was a breeze".

  The MQF with the three Apollo 11 astronauts is unloaded by a US Air Force C-141 jet transport at Ellington Air Force Base. (NASA)

The MQF with the three Apollo 11 astronauts unloaded by a US Air Force C-141 jet at Ellington Air Force Base. (NASA)

The astronaut's choice of quarantining matter was particularly appropriate. "At the time I was reading a book by John Steinbeck – & # 39; Of mice and men & # 39 ;," he smiled.

Collins spoke to Fox News in New York on Sunday after attending "One Giant Leap," a New York Times event commemorating the moon landing.

APOLLO 11 PILOT MICHAEL COLLINS IS NOT AGREED WITH RETURN TO THE MOON.

The 20th of July 2019 was the 50th anniversary of the moon landing on which Armstrong and Aldrin were the first humans to set foot on the lunar surface. While his teammates explored the moon, Collins piloted the Columbia Command Module circling 60 miles above them.

  FILE - Apollo 11 crewmembers from left, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins sit at the MQF in Houston on this file photo.

FILE – Apollo 11 crewmembers from left, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins sit in the MQF in Houston.
(AP Photo)

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The MQF used by the Apollo 11 astronauts is now in the Smithsonian National Air collection and Space Museum. [19659003] Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers


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