Buzz Aldrin knows a thing or two about quarantines. After their return from the moon in 1969, Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins spent 21 days in quarantine to prevent the spread of any contamination they may have brought from the lunar surface.
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, I had telephone contact with Aldrin on Tuesday. He is at home, squatting down and doing well in health. Aldrin turned 90 in January and at this age he is in the very highest risk categories for COVID-19.
“Buzz, what are you doing to protect yourself from the coronavirus?” I asked.
“Lie on my ass and lock the door,” he replied without hesitation.
Buzz Aldrin, ladies and gentlemen. A national treasure.
After the Apollo 11 Command Module landed in the Pacific Ocean, the three lunar astronauts were taken from their life rafts to the USS hornet aircraft carrier. Once aboard the ship, they immediately went into a converted Airstream trailer known as the Mobile Quarantine Facility. This trailer was flown on a C-141 aircraft to Houston, where the crew then spent about three weeks in a “safe” building known as the Lunar Receiving Laboratory.
I asked Aldrin about this experience and if he had any advice for the hundreds of millions of Americans who are already in or soon to be in a semi-quarantine in which we are encouraged not to leave our homes.
He laughed in response. “Well, Mike Collins and I always did a little sport and jogged down the hall,” he said. “We looked at this one crack in the floor and ants were crawling in and out.” The implication, of course, is that if ants can get in, then microbes can get in and out too. Scientists would soon realize that the moon was a completely dead world and that no more life would return to Earth from there.
So how did he spend his quarantine time? Taking care of mission reports, Aldrin said, and filling out paperwork, such as a… government travel voucher that entitled him to $33.31 for his trip to the moon.