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Astronaut reveals why they were locked in a container with mice after 1969 moon landing

Being a part of the remarkable Apollo 11 crew, this astronaut revealed how they were treated on return and it's spooky.

Astronaut reveals why they were locked in a container with mice after 1969 moon landing
Cover Image Source: Apollo 11 astronauts (left to right): Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin peer from window of their isolation quarters aboard the U.S.S. Hornet after their July 24th recovery.(Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images)

The whole world watched in awe as the Apollo 11 crew successfully touched down on the moon in 1969. However, considering the previous failed missions, people were concerned about the safe return of the three American astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. However, history was made and we all know that the trio returned to their home planet in flying colors. There's a little-known truth about what happened immediately after the crew reached the Earth. In 2019, Collins opened up about the bizarre treatment he and his colleagues from the Apollo 11 mission faced on their return during an interview with 60 Minutes Australia.

Image Source: Photograph of the pilot Michael Collins at Apollo 11 Command Module, practicing docking hatch removal from CM simulator at NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, June 28, 1969. Image courtesy National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
Image Source: Photograph of the pilot Michael Collins at Apollo 11 Command Module, practicing docking hatch removal from CM simulator at NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, June 28, 1969. Image courtesy National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

While thinking of the first successful moon landing, people are often reminded of Armstrong and Aldrin. However, Collins, the less-spoken-about third astronaut, played the pivotal role of manning the spacecraft while the two moonwalkers explored the moon's surface for 21 hours and 36 minutes, per NASA. During the interview, an 88-year-old Collins quipped about his trip to the moon saying, "Did I have the best seat on Apollo 11? No. Was I happy with the seat I did have? Yes. I really was. And to be any small part of that suited me very well." He added jokingly, "Besides I was their (Armstrong and Aldrin) ticket home. They couldn't get home without me."

Cover Image Source: Apollo 11 astronauts (left to right): Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin peer from window of their isolation quarters aboard the U.S.S. Hornet after their July 24th recovery.
Image Source: Apollo 11 astronauts (left to right): Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin peer from the window of their isolation quarters aboard the U.S.S. Hornet after their July 24th recovery.

The astronaut explained that he was worried if he would safely be reconnected with his two colleagues and bring them back to Earth. However, the mission turned out to be a success and after 195 hours in space, the Apollo 11 splashed into the Pacific Ocean from where the recovery ship retrieved them. After their arrival, the trio could not celebrate their glorious achievement right away. They were treated as aliens. "We were put into quarantine for two weeks. Some of our scientists were worried about the pathogens that we might have brought back from the moon. They possibly would be dangerous to humankind," Collins added. He revealed how they had to spend their first few weeks inside a "hermetically sealed container with a gigantic colony of white mice."

"If the white mice lived, we were okay. If the white mice died, we were in deep trouble," Collins revealed. He then added that the mice eventually became his friends and by the end of their quarantine, the rodents showed no signs of diseases. During their quarantine time in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory (LRL), the astronauts conducted debriefs from a glass-enclosed conference room, wrote their pilot reports and even had a surprise party for Armstrong’s 39th birthday, as per NASA. A doctor monitored their health status every day until they were cleared to end their quarantine.

Image Source: Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., Lunar Module Pilot, stands near a scientific experiment on the lunar surface. Man's first landing on the Moon occurred July 20, 1969 as Lunar Module
Image Source: Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., Lunar Module Pilot, stands near a scientific experiment on the lunar surface. Man's first landing on the Moon occurred July 20, 1969, as the Lunar Module "Eagle" touched down gently on the Sea of Tranquility on the east side of the Moon. (Photo by NASA/Newsmakers/Getty Images)

Speaking of some unknown facts about the Apollo 11 mission, NASA had a shocking plan for Armstrong and Aldrin if the moon landing failed. President Richard Nixon was prepared to announce the two moonwalkers' deaths should the mission fail, per History. Based on the concerns of Apollo 8 commander and astronaut, Frank Borman, the President's speechwriter wrote a speech draft to announce the tragedy if the moonwalkers failed to return. "Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace. These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice," the draft read. However, all turned out well and 1969 became a remarkable year in the history of space travel.



 

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