Apollo 11 was a NASA spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon back in July of 1969. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin formed the crew that landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle. Michael Collins flew the Command Module Columbia in lunar orbit whilst Armstrong and Aldrin were on the Moon’s surface.
The astronauts spent about two and a quarter hours on the surface of the moon and they collected 21.5 kg of lunar samples to bring back to Earth. Here are 8 Amazing Facts About The Apollo 11 Mission, including how the astronauts managed to obtain some form of insurance before their risky mission.
#1 Buzz Aldrin claimed $33.31 travel expenses for his trip to the moon
Back in 2015, Buzz Aldrin published his expenses claim for the Apollo 11 mission on social media. It shows that the astronaut was reimbursed $33.31 by NASA for the trip. Itemising Aldrin’s travel details show that he flew “Gov. Air” to get from Houston to Cape Kennedy and flew “Gov. Spacecraft” to travel between Cape Kennedy and the moon.
#2 Neil Armstrong was not the first choice to be the first man on the moon
Most people assume that being the mission Commander Neil Armstrong was always NASA’s first choice to be the first man to walk on the moon. However, it was typical for the junior person, who happened to be Buzz Aldrin in this instance, to be the first to step outside so that the more senior person would be left behind the controls and in a safer and better position to take any action needed in an emergency. Many people though felt that it was an important act of symbology to have the mission commander take the responsibility.
#3 A felt tip pen saved the Apollo 11 mission from disaster
Buzz Aldrin used a felt-tip pen to activate a broken circuit breaker, enabling the Eagle lander to blast off from the moon. The broken switch had snapped off from the engine-arm circuit breaker, and if they hadn’t had been able to get that breaker pushed back in, they would have been unable to ignite the ascent engines to return home.
#4 The astronauts left microscopic messages of peace on the moon
The Apollo 11 mission carried goodwill messages inscribed on a silicon disc about the size of a 50-cent piece, which are statements from the leaders of 73 countries around the world. It was left on the Moon in 1969 by the astronauts. At the top of the disc is the inscription: “Goodwill messages from around the world brought to the Moon by the astronauts of Apollo 11.” and around the rim is the statement: “From Planet Earth — July 1969”.
#5 US President Nixon prepared a speech should the astronauts not make it back
In preparation for a possible catastrophe, US President Nixon had his presidential speechwriter William Safire prepare a statement should the astronauts not return home. Although the speech was never given, its very existence highlights the very real concerns regarding the hazards of space travel.
#6 Moon rocks and moon dust samples had to be declared at US Customs on return
Another social media post from Buzz Aldrin showed that the astronauts on Apollo 11 had to sign a customs form at Honolulu in Hawaii, upon returning to Earth from the moon. Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins all declared at US Customs that they had brought back “moon rock and moon dust samples”.
#7 The astronauts spent 3 weeks in quarantine, just in case of “moon plague”
Before the Apollo 11 mission left Earth, NASA needed to be sure that if potential microorganisms were brought home, life on Earth would be safe. The prospect of being exposed to novel pathogens that the population had never had a chance to build an immunity to was a public health concern. So NASA decided to establish a three-week quarantine for the crew of Apollo 11 which was treated as a “better-safe-than-sorry” operation.
#8 The Apollo 11 Astronauts signed memorabilia as a form of insurance
Since the astronauts were unable to obtain adequate insurance due to the extremely high-risk nature of their job, the Apollo 11 astronauts signed hundreds of postal covers as a form of insurance before they left, presuming that these items would become highly valuable in the event of their death.
Although artefacts from space would usually be the most desirable memorabilia for souvenir collectors, Apollo Insurance Covers have become extremely popular. Displaying everything that a collector would want from a beautiful design that normally included the mission emblem, authentic signatures of the mission crew and a certificate of authenticity. Insurance Covers started with Apollo 11 and continued on until the Apollo 16 mission.
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