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Moon landing astronauts reveal they possibly infected Earth with space germs

Two Apollo 11 astronauts question NASA's planetary safety procedures.

President Richard M. Nixon laughs with Apollo 11 astronauts by the Mobile Quarantine Facility. July 24th, 1969.

Credit: Bettmann, Getty Images.
  • Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins revealed that there were deficiencies in NASA's safety procedures following the Apollo 11 mission.
  • Moon landing astronauts were quarantined for 21 days.
  • Earth could be contaminated with lunar bacteria.


The moon landing was definitely one of humanity's most amazing achievements. It could have also been one of its most dangerous moments. Apollo 11 astronauts who took part in the landing revealed that there's a chance Earth could have been contaminated with lunar germs as a result of their mission.

NASA actually had procedures in place to address any possible spread of bacteria from space to our home planet but the measures had key deficiencies, asserted astronaut Michael Collins in the new PBS documentary "Chasing the Moon". He wasn't actually one of the people who walked on the moon. But he was in the command module when his crewmates came back from the lunar vehicle. At that moment, he would have been "exposed," as he admitted, to the lunar germs, if there were any.

"Look at it this way," he said, as reported by Space.com. "Suppose there were germs on the moon. There are germs on the moon, we come back, the command module is full of lunar germs. The command module lands in the Pacific Ocean, and what do they do? Open the hatch. You got to open the hatch! All the damn germs come out!"


His point about what happened once the command module splashed down in the Pacific were re-enforced by Buzz Aldrin, who did get to walk on the moon and could have been the one carrying the potential germs. He especially remembered the discarded rags that were used to disinfect him once he was pulled out of the module.

"You have to laugh a little bit," Aldrin mused. "It takes all those germs to the bottom of the ocean. I wonder if they'd survive down there?"

7/24/1969. Pararescueman Lieutenant Clancey Hatleberg closes the Apollo 11 spacecraft hatch as astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, await helicopter pickup from their life raft. They are wearing biological isolation garments for their 21-day, quaratine period.

Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images

Apollo 11 astronauts actually spent 21 days in quarantine, released without any noticeable issues. Future missions Apollo 15 through 17 of 1971-1972 also had men walking on the moon but did not employ any quarantine measures, according to Scientific American. This lack of precaution was precipitated by the analysis of lunar samples from previous missions, which showed no life forms.

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