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Why NASA quarantined the Apollo 11 astronauts

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

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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:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw95T_TgbGHhTml4xZ9yIqg

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.

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Further reading
NASA has an excellent flight journal chronicling the quarantine.
https://history.nasa.gov/afj/lrl/apollo-quarantine.html

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.
https://catalog.archives.gov/search?q=mqf&f.materialsType=movingimages

NASA also has multiple oral histories that relate to the quarantine. This one with John Hirasaki is a good starting point.
https://historycollection.jsc.nasa.gov/JSCHistoryPortal/history/oral_histories/HirasakiJK/HirasakiJK_3-6-09.htm

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.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw95T_TgbGHhTml4xZ9yIqg

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