Apollo 11 Astronauts Had to Go Through Customs on Their Return from the Moon

Photo Credit: NASA

This year marks 50 years since Apollo 11’s famous moon landing. Those brave men did something no one had ever done before, uniting humanity in awe and wonder at the mysteries of the universe.

Apparently, humanity is also united in experiencing the joys of going through customs upon entering the country – even those astronauts.

Just like anyone coming off a long trip—for work no less—the men of Apollo 11 were probably ready for a beer and a nice steak dinner. Instead, a brief interaction with the local, friendly customs agent was in order.

The astronauts declared moon rock, moon dust and other moon samples on the form as they entered the United States through Honolulu Airport, Hawaii, after landing in the Pacific Ocean on July 24, 1969. Their ocean splash-down was the end of their historic voyage to the moon.

All three crewmen—Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin—signed the form. Their point of departure was recorded as Cape Kennedy, Florida, with a stopover on the moon before arrival in Honolulu.

Photo Credit: NASA

Website Space.com found the customs form on the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol site, where it went up as a commemoration for the 40th anniversary of the moon visit. NASA verified that, yes, the form is real. But it was all done in fun.

The actual return to earth happened about 920 miles southwest of Hawaii and only 12 miles from the USS Hornet, the navy ship deployed to pick up the astronauts. The trip to Honolulu would take an additional two days.

As for the declaration of health, Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin were all quarantined inside a NASA trailer on board the USS Hornet to prevent the spread of any moon diseases. They even had to wear special biohazard suits while on deck after getting pulled from the seas.

Photo Credit: NASA

The astronauts, trailer and all, were taken to Houston. Then, three weeks later they were allowed to leave isolation and go to all the parties and parades they were due.

Present day astronauts don’t have to sit in isolation. When they return from the International Space Station, they receive a quick medical checkup before they are free to move about the earth. But whenever they return, they—like the rest of us earthlings—have to go through customs.