JFK+50: Volume 6, No. 2019APOLLO 11 RETURNED FROM THE MOON 47 YEARS AGO
Honolulu, Hawaii (JFK+50) When President John F. Kennedy announced in 1961 that the United States of America would land a man on the moon "in this decade", he also added "and return him safely to the earth." JFK sadly did not live to see it.
Forty-seven years ago today, July 24, 1969, the second part of President Kennedy's goal was accomplished as the crew of Apollo 11, including two astronauts who had walked on the lunar surface, splashed down in the Pacific Ocean.
The Columbia spacecraft was retrieved successfully and the crew brought safely aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet.
The three space travelers were immediately placed in a "mobile quarantine facility" where they would remain for five days. According to One Small Step, A Scrapbook...
"The crew (had) filled 2 boxes with rocks and soil samples. If there was life on the Moon, then it might have infected the Earth, so the samples, the crew and their spacecraft all had to go into quarantine."
President Richard M. Nixon was on hand to greet the astronauts in person, but he could only see them through the small window of the MQF. After the ceremony, the entire facility was transported to the Lunar Receiving Laboratory in Houston Texas.
Later Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were treated to a ticker tape parade in New York City, the largest ever held in the USA. Afterwards, the three went on a good-will mission around the world.
One Small Step tells us that NASA had scheduled nine moon landings to follow Apollo 11, but three were canceled in 1970. The first American astronaut to fly in space, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., was to be one of those who would walk on the Moon.
While we haven't been back to the Moon in a while, One Small Step reported in 2009 that NASA "expects to return to the Moon around the year 2020."
"One Small Step, Celebrating the First Men On the Moon," by Jerry Stone, Roaring Book Press, New York, 2009.