Apollo 11 Splashes Down – July 24, 1969

In 1969, the Apollo 11 crew successfully returned to Earth following their eight-day mission to the lunar surface. Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, 13 miles from the recovery ship USS Hornet. Donning biological isolation garments before leaving the spacecraft, the crew went directly into the Mobile Quarantine Facility on the aircraft carrier, their home for the following 21 days. With the success of Apollo 11, the national objective of landing men on the Moon and returning them safely to Earth was accomplished.

In 1969, the Apollo 11 crew successfully returned to Earth following their eight-day mission to the lunar surface. Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, 13 miles from the recovery ship USS Hornet. Donning biological isolation garments before leaving the spacecraft, the crew went directly into the Mobile Quarantine Facility on the aircraft carrier, their home for the following 21 days. With the success of Apollo 11, the national objective of landing men on the Moon and returning them safely to Earth was accomplished.

The Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin aboard splashed down at 11:49 a.m. CDT, July 24, 1969, about 812 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii and only 12 nautical miles from the USS Hornet.

The Apollo 11 crew await pickup by a helicopter from the USS Hornet, prime recovery ship for the historic lunar landing mission. The fourth man in the life raft is a United States Navy underwater demolition team swimmer. All four men are wearing biological isolation garments.

The Apollo 11 crew await pickup by a helicopter from the USS Hornet, prime recovery ship for the historic lunar landing mission. The fourth man in the life raft is a United States Navy underwater demolition team swimmer. All four men are wearing biological isolation garments.

Apollo 11 Flight Log, July 24, 1969: Return to Earth

Apollo11

This summer marks the 51st anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission. Fifty-one years ago today (July 24), the Apollo 11 astronauts separated the command module from the service module, re-entered Earth’s atmosphere, and safely landed home where they went to spend the next couple of weeks in quarantine to ensure that they hadn’t brought back any “moon bugs.” Here’s how it happened.

Apollo11-2

After an eventful journey to and from the moon that included the first human footsteps on the lunar surface, the Apollo 11 crew prepared for a splashdown on Earth on the final day of their mission. Riding inside the command module Columbia were Neil Armstrong (commander), Buzz Aldrin (lunar module pilot) and Michael Collins (command module pilot).

unnamed

The Apollo 11 crew woke up at 6:47 a.m. EDT to get ready for their landing. The first major milestone took place at 12:21 p.m., when they separated the command module from the “service module”, which carried items such as oxygen tanks and electrical systems that were intended to keep the command module working properly during its journey to the moon and back.

Apollo

 

Columbia entered Earth’s atmosphere at 12:35 p.m., at times heating up so much that communications were interrupted by the supercharged atmosphere surrounding the spacecraft. But all went to plan. It safely splashed down about 950 miles (1,527 kilometres) southwest of Honolulu and only 15 miles (24 kilometres) from recovery ship USS Hornet.

Apollo11-4

United States President Richard Nixon was in the central Pacific recovery area to welcome the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the USS Hornet, prime recovery ship for the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing mission, on July 24, 1969. The Apollo 11 astronauts are, from left, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. They were quarantined after splashdown to ensure they did not bring back any contamination from the moon. (Image credit: NASA)

United States President Richard Nixon was in the central Pacific recovery area to welcome the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the USS Hornet, prime recovery ship for the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing mission, on July 24, 1969. The Apollo 11 astronauts are, from left, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. They were quarantined after splashdown to ensure they did not bring back any contamination from the moon. (Image credit: NASA)

The crew waited as recovery operations approached the spacecraft, opened the hatch and put isolation suits inside for the crew to wear, just in case they brought microbes back from the moon. They were also sprayed with disinfectant. Ultimately, the Apollo 11 crew went through customs in Hawaii after they reached land. They declared moon rocks and moon dust among their items.

Apollo11-3