Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin is leveraging his famous Apollo 11 quarantine experience of five decades ago to help society deal with the coronavirus pandemic, which has much of the world under a stay-at-home order.
Aldrin and Apollo 11 crewmates Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins endured a three-week quarantine inside a modified Airstream trailer after their historic moon mission ended in July 1969, to ensure that they didn't spread any potential "space germs" to the rest of us here on Earth.
There's a famous photo of President Richard Nixon visiting the trailer-trapped trio aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, which fished the astronauts out of the Pacific Ocean after their mission-ending splashdown. And now, Aldrin is selling 100 autographed prints of that picture for $599 apiece, with proceeds going to the Salvation Army to help communities around the United States deal with the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19.
"Like many of you, I want to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19 and have been self-quarantining for a while now," the 90-year-old Aldrin said in a statement. "Being quarantined is never easy — I know! — but it's something we can all do for the safety of ourselves, our loved ones and our country. Call it one small step for each of us, one giant leap for mankind!"
You can buy one of the autographed photos via Aldrin's Apollo Space Shop.
The Apollo 11 quarantine may seem silly to us now, but it was a prudent measure at the time, given how little scientists knew about the lunar surface. Better safe than sorry, after all.
Nobody has set foot on the moon since December 1972, when Apollo 17 departed on its way back to Earth. But that will change relatively soon, if all goes according to NASA's plan. The space agency is working, via its Artemis program, to land two astronauts near the lunar south pole in 2024 and establish a long-term, sustainable presence on and around the moon by 2028.
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Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.