The forgotten astronaut of 1969 moon landing shares bizarre way they were treated upon returning to earth

Shola Lee

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The forgotten astronaut of 1969 moon landing shares bizarre way they were treated upon returning to earth

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock/Shutterstock

The often 'forgotten' astronaut from the iconic Apollo 11 mission has opened up about the strange way he was treated upon arriving back on Earth after the historic mission.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Who can forget Neil Armstrong's famous words as he stepped onto the lunar surface for the very first time, with Buzz Aldrin just behind him?

But there's one astronaut we don't mention as often, despite him being vital to the success of the 1969 mission.

Michael piloted the famous mission. Credit: Gado Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Michael piloted the famous mission. Credit: Gado Images / Alamy Stock Photo

That astronaut is Michael Collins, who successfully piloted the lunar command module as Armstrong and Aldrin explored the moon's surface.

Collins, who trained first as a fighter pilot, had dreams of seeing the stars and was thrilled to be involved in the mission, telling 60 Minutes Australia: "Did I have the best seat on Apollo 11? No. Was I happy with the seat I did have? Yes – I really was, and to be any small part of that suited me very, very well.

"And, besides, I was their ticket home – they couldn't get home without me."

So, as his crew mates collected rocks on the surface, Collins orbited on the far side of the moon, in pitch darkness.

The hero explained how they were treated upon returning to earth. Credit: NASA Photo / Alamy Stock Photo
The hero explained how they were treated upon returning to earth. Credit: NASA Photo / Alamy Stock Photo

"The food was terrible, but I enjoyed my time behind the moon, it's a more rugged place and not a very comfortable place."

While the moon was 'impressive' Collins said it was 'nothing compared to our home planet'.

Despite the spectacular views, upon returning home the astronauts couldn't quite enjoy their hero status, with Collins explaining: "We were put into quarantine for two weeks. Some of our scientists were worried about the pathogens that we might have brought back from the moon, they possibly would be dangerous to humankind.

"So, their solution to that was to put us inside a hermetically sealed container with a gigantic colony of white mice – [if] the white mice lived we were okay, [if the] white mice died we were in deep trouble. Of course, I was checking on them ... there were too many of them to give names to but they became my friends."

The crew were honoured with a star on the walk of fame. Credit: Allard Schager / Alamy Stock Photo
The crew were honoured with a star on the walk of fame. Credit: Allard Schager / Alamy Stock Photo

Thankfully, the mice survived.

Collins added that he 'loved those mice' and honestly if they were the only living thing you were seeing for two weeks we imagine you'd enjoy their company too.

Collins' comments have resurfaced as Nasa was set to launch their Artemis I mission today, 29 August.

However, the mission was delayed after a leak was spotted – the new date for launch has not yet been confirmed but is suspected to take place 2 September.

The mission aims to provide a foundation for deep space travel and will be the first mission in 50 years with the capability of sending humans to the moon.

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Topics: Technology, NASA, Space, Science

Shola Lee
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