16.50 GMT, 24 July 1969: Apollo 11 Splashdown
After enduring the scorching heat generated by falling through Earth’s atmosphere, the Apollo 11 mission officially ended when the command module Columbia came to rest on the waters of the North Pacific.
24 July 1969 Half an hour after ‘landing’, the Apollo 11 crew, dressed in isolation suits, are met and extracted by a navy diver before being airlifted to the USS Hornet (above).
The command module is lowered onto the deck of the USS Hornet before being taken to the Lunar Receiving Laboratory in Houston. The three air sacks at the top inflated to right the module when it came to rest upside-down.
Just over an hour after splashdown, the crew arrive on the USS Hornet and are directed from the helicopter straight into the mobile quarantine facility, a converted Airstream trailer.
Such was the importance of Apollo 11’s safe return that President Nixon joined the USS Hornet in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to greet the astronauts, despite being unable to shake their hands.
26 July 1969. When it arrives in Hawaii, the mobile quarantine facility, still containing the Apollo 11 crew, is unloaded from the USS Hornet before being flown back to Houston.
27 July 1969. Still in their quarantine trailer on arrival in Houston, the crew see their wives for the first time since returning to Earth. From left: Patricia Collins, Jan Armstrong and Joan Aldrin.
Read more about the Apollo programme:
- In pictures: Apollo 11 astronauts' exploits on the Moon
- Apollo Mission Patches: Badges of honour
- Everything you ever wanted to know about the Apollo programme
- On air, on the Moon: BBC presenters recall the night of the Moon landing
- Nazis, magic and McCarthyism: the dark history of early American space exploration