Astronaut Collins customs form

The U.S. Customs form filled out by the Apollo 11 astronauts Collins after their return to Earth on July 24, 1969.
Credit: NASA

Moon Germs

A mix of mundane and extraordinary, this planetary paperwork—Buzz Aldrin’s expense report and customs declaration for the moon landing—is out of this world!

Believe it or not, even after returning from the first moon landing, astronauts cannot escape U.S. Customs and Immigration! Upon splashing down in the Pacific, off the coast of Hawaii, the Apollo 11 crew—Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins—declared they brought back moon rocks and dust samples from their 1969 voyage.

Curiously, moon disease was “to be determined.”

With serious concern over what germs the crew may have brought back with them, they were promptly quarantined for three weeks after returning to Earth. These astronauts were viewed as potential threats. The family reunions, food cravings, and warm welcomes from wagging tails at home had to wait.

moon germ isolation

Astronauts suited up in “biological isolation garments” before transitioning into quarantine to ensure that “the lunar dust we brought back wouldn’t give people on earth our moon germs,” Aldrin said.

buzz aldrin travel expenses

Buzz Aldrin’s travel expenses to the moon and back: $33.31
Credit: NASA

“Periodic examinations and blood tests monitored the physiological effects of their flight and recovery, while the doctors kept a close watch for any signs of exotic infection.” -“Status Report, John McLeaish Comments on Crew, 7/28/69

The experience “quickly became oppressive,” according to a NASA history of the mission.

What a welcome! These days, most astronauts returning from space exit their craft almost immediately, although they still go through customs!

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