One long wait for the Apollo wives

One long wait for the Apollo wives
After their husbands returned after the first mission to land on the Moon, the spouses were unable to make close contact
The Apollo 11 crew arrives at Houston's Ellington Air Force base where they are welcomed by their wives


1. The wives of astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong arrived at Ellington Air Force base on July 27, 1969, to find their husbands in a trailer. The Apollo 11 crew spent 21 days in quarantine after returning to Earth. This picture has been reproduced in Moonfire: The Epic Journey of Apollo 11, by Norman Mailer. Only 1,969 copies have been printed at a cost of $1,000.

2. Neil Armstrong, to the seemingly eternal chagrin of Buzz Aldrin, was the first man to hop from the lunar module and on to the Moon. Armstrong, left, was a navy pilot before joining Nasa’s space corps and left the Earth twice — once on Gemini 8 in 1966 and once for a stroll on the Moon.

3. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, centre, was an engineer and air force pilot who was second on the Moon. “Buzz” stuck after his young sister called him “buzzer” instead of “brother”. He made it his name legally in 1988. He was the pilot of Gemini 12 in 1966 and of the lunar module, Eagle.

4. Michael Collins sat in the command module watching his crewmates as they made history. He had been in space on Gemini 10 in 1966, and is one of only 24 astronauts to have flown to the Moon.
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5. Pat Collins, left, said to be the prettiest of the three wives, was glued to the television throughout the 12-day mission. The wives had to endure as much publicity as their husbands as they waited nervously on Earth. The Collinses are the only one of the three couples still together.

6. Janet Armstrong, centre, was the “boss” of the three wives. She watched the launch from a boat on the Banana River as close to the launchpad as possible and had her two sons by her side.

7. Joan Aldrin was famously pictured applauding the television as the crew splashed down safely on their return to Earth. Their marriage fell apart under the strain of Aldrin’s depression and heavy drinking. The friendship of the three wives outlasted two of the marriages.

8. The mission was watched live by about 1 billion people around the world. During the Moon walk, one technician joked to Armstrong: “I guess you’re about the only person around who doesn’t have TV coverage of the thing.”

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