Astronaut Buzz Aldrin has advice for getting through quarantine

The Apollo 11 astronaut spent three weeks in an isolation chamber that didn't have the best seals.

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Steven Musil
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President Richard Nixon greets astronauts Neil Armstrong (left), Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin in their quarantine chamber after Apollo 11.


Astronaut Buzz Aldrin is no stranger to being in quarantine. When he, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins returned to Earth from the first manned landing on the moon in 1969, NASA immediately placed the Apollo 11 crew in lockdown.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Aldrin is taking no chances. When asked by Ars Technica what he's doing to protect himself from the virus, Aldrin said he was "lying on my ass and locking the door."

And for good reason, because at the age of 90, Aldrin is in the group most vulnerable to the disease.

In 1969, NASA was worried that germs or diseases that might've hitched a ride with the capsule could unleash a lunar plague on Earthlings. So, immediately after splashdown, the crew donned anti-contamination suits and was transported to Houston, where they spent the next three weeks in a converted Airstream trailer called the Mobile Quarantine Facility.

Aldrin spoke of his experiences in quarantine and encouraged the millions of Americans already in lockdown to stay put in their homes. The MQF had sleeping and living quarters and an air filtration system, but it didn't inspire much confidence in Aldrin for NASA's ability to keep germs from leaking out of their isolation chamber.

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"Well, Mike Collins and I used to exercise and jog a little bit around the hallway," he said. "We looked at this one crack in the floor, and there were ants crawling in and out."

The MQF was retired two years later after Apollo 11, when it was determined that the moon was completely devoid of life, including pathogens.

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