Monday, July 20, 2009

Apollo 11 Return


I think this is my favorite "artifact" from Apollo 11... yeah, yeah, I know auctions are going on right now for gloves and dust and whatnot -- but ironically, this one says far more about Earth (or rather Earthlings) than it ever will about the moon.

We've all had our share of border hassles when coming back into the country -- even when our suitcases contained nothing more than laundry, razors -- but I wonder if Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin expected to be questioned or asked to fill out a standard Customs Declaration on the way back home from the moon? However, in the Honolulu, Hawai'i Airport, that is precisely what they had to do.

Apollo 11 Customs Form
Apollo 11 Customs Manifest (Click to Enlarge)

Upon splashdown, the astronauts were quarantined on the U.S.S. Hornet to guard against bringing any foreign organisms back to Earth. Neil was said to have relaxed by playing his ukulele. Back at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory and later the Manned Spacecraft Center, they spent nearly 3 weeks in confinement.

On August 13, 1969, the astronauts exited quarantine to the cheers of the American public. Huge parades were held in in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles on the same day.

That evening there was an official State Dinner, attended by Members of Congress, 44 Governors, and ambassadors from 83 nations. Nixon honored each astronaut with a presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This celebration was the beginning of a 45-day "Giant Leap" tour that brought the astronauts to 25 foreign countries and included visits with prominent world leaders.

Apollo 11
Let the press conferences begin!

On September 16, 1969, the three astronauts spoke before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill. They presented two U.S. flags, one to the House of Representatives and the other to the Senate, that had been carried to the surface of the moon with them.

Pretty cool! But that customs form still kills me. Click here to see the entire document...