After reuniting with the Command Module and its pilot, Michael Collins, the Apollo 11 astronauts began the long journey home. At 12:56 a.m. on July 22, while on the back side of the Moon, the module's rockets were fired, putting it on a course toward Earth.
Shortly after noon on July 24, the command and service modules separated and the spacecraft plunged into the Earth's atmosphere. At 12:51 p.m., with its parachutes billowing, Apollo splashed down 825 nautical miles southwest of Honolulu--a short 13 nautical miles from the recovery ship, the U.S.S. Hornet. Within minutes, Navy frogmen arrived and sprayed the emerging astronauts with disinfectants to guard against any possible Moon "germs."
On the Hornet, the Apollo astronauts moved immediately to a mobile quarantine trailer, where they remained until they arrived at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory in Houston early on July 27. Through its small windows, they were greeted by their wives and colleagues, and received a dinner invitation from President Nixon. They responded with the the thumbs-up, A-OK sign of military pilots.
The public did not hear the astronauts' stories first hand until a press conference held on August 12.
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