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On July 24, 1969, President Richard Nixon stepped off Marine One onto the deck of the USS Hornet, which had steamed to the central Pacific to pick up the Apollo 11 astronauts. Lunar travel being new, NASA physicians were concerned that Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin might have brought home “lunar pathogens,” so they forced the men into quarantine. (Sound familiar?)
Yet for the millions of Americans watching on TV, there was something oddly familiar about the tear drop-shaped aluminum container the astronauts were sitting in.