Regulation Of The Day 227: Returning From The Moon

Neil Armstrong died last weekend at the age of 82. He was an inspirational figure for a lot of reasons besides the obvious one of being the first man to walk on the Moon. He took great pride in being a nerdy, pocket-protector wearing engineer. In so doing, he inspired a lot of nerdy kids to keep their chins up, work hard, and accomplish great things. His stoic example made the world a better place.

Armstrong also handled his fame well.  He always maintained a calm, quiet dignity. His steady demeanor presented a sharp contrast with his no-less heroic colleague Buzz Aldrin, who is something of a showman at heart. Armstrong didn’t much care for the spotlight, and happily lived a quiet life in his native Ohio.

Which brings us to today’s Regulation of the Day. It turns out that when Armstrong, Aldrin, and Michael Collins returned to Earth after the Apollo 11 mission, they actually filled out a customs form. The Atlantic recently unearthed the document. It’s hard to tell if the form was an exercise in dry humor or the crew really was required to fill it out.

It’s worth a read. The “Departure from” field is filled in with simply, “moon.” The flight routing proceeds: Cape Kennedy; moon; Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A. The cargo manifest includes “moon rock and moon dust samples.” An ominous note sounds in the “Any other condition on board which lead to the spread of disease” field: a typewritten, all-caps “TO BE DETERMINED.”

One wonders if today’s astronauts still fill out customs forms when they return home.