Why NASA quarantined the Apollo 11 astronauts

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  • ℹ️ Description
Why NASA quarantined the Apollo 11 astronauts 5

On July 21, 1969, the Apollo 11 quarantine began.

In this episode of History Club, Vox's Phil Edwards and Coleman Lowndes chat with Amy Shira Teitel of The Vintage Space about the Apollo 11 quarantine.

Thanks Amy - check out her channel here:

In History Club, Vox's Phil Edwards and Coleman Lowndes share their discoveries about history both weird and wonderful. Check out the full playlist here.

It was an unusual process for an unprecedented task: keeping potential moon germs from entering the Earth’s atmosphere (and affecting its population).

To try to isolate the Apollo astronauts from the Earth, NASA went to extraordinary lengths. They clothed them in “Biological Isolation Garments,” transported them on a converted Airstream trailer, and then quarantined them for weeks in a Lunar Receiving Lab specially built to analyze moon samples and, of course, the men who went there.

The quarantine was a strange capstone to the journey to the moon — but also a necessary one that’s surprisingly resonant today.

Further reading
NASA has an excellent flight journal chronicling the quarantine.

The National Archives has a treasure trove of Apollo 11 footage. Searching it can be a bit clunky, but the results are astonishing and helped make this video. You can start a search for the Mobile Quarantine Facility (abbreviated as MQF) here.

NASA also has multiple oral histories that relate to the quarantine. This one with John Hirasaki is a good starting point.

We were joined in this conversation by Amy Shira Teitel, whose YouTube channel The Vintage Space chronicles a range of topics related to space and the middle of the 20th century.

💬 Comments on the video

So, USA took more precautions for a non existing virus than an existing one.

Author — Md. Nasir Uddin Protul


'Lunar plague'
2020: Write that down, write that down!

Author — Jamie O'Neill


I guess the Lunar Plague didn't turn them into... Lunatics...

Author — MeowGarlicster


Armstrong doing it before it was cool.

Author — Mr. Wide


Space doesn't seem like a bad place to be right now.



“This is how venom in spiderman got to eart *shows cartoon venom holding spiderman* .. so this is important stuff” hahah

Author — SuperLukenzi


Imagine surviving the Moon Landing and instead of being relieved when getting home, being shoved into a Trailer that looks like an oversized Chipotle Burrito

Author — US


Spoiler Alert:
The moon bug takes 50 years to effect Humans, Welcome to 2020

Author — TnT FoX


This topic would’ve still been overlooked if corona wasn’t going around

Author — Carlos Martinez


Kid: *snorts line of powder
Parent: What's that? Cocaine?
Kid: It's moon dust

Author — 1203927


"Anticipating for the worst but hoping for the best"

I think that's how we should prepare ourself in life

Author — Bryan H


Remember the chest burst in the Alien, that's because they're not running quarantine protocol 🤔

Author — Nerd in Disguise


"that's how venom got to earth so this is important"... Wow xD

Author — Lukas Schilling


I thought it was really neat in First Man that they show Armstrong seperated from his wife via the containment screen instead of the usual romantic hug and kiss

Author — Salokin


"Moon Dust" definately sounds like the street name of a drug!

Author — Rakesh Yadav


“This is the quarantine edition of history club”
Nothing changed

Author — chunky sarvida


It’s weird for me to see how quarantine works in history and today, and how people used their free time back then and now.

Edit:Forgot to put the “time”

Author — Don Sabalboro


Never been so early ever, look what quarantine can do to you

Author — Anmol Goyal


I was sold the moment he referenced Venom & Spider-man cause that is exactly what his backstory was.

Author — Shashank Sharma


You'd really have to like the guys you went to the moon with; 9 days in space and another 21 in quarantine, all in very confined quarters

Author — Dane William