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Back to Earth: The Apollo 11 Astronauts Tour After the Moon Landing

After the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the Moon, they embarked on an equally fascinating journey: a global goodwill press tour in Air Force One. Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony explains the importance of the tour and how the astronauts’ lives changed post-Moon landing.

Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony, author of Apollo to the Moon, an examination of 50 fascinating artifacts from the Apollo 11 mission, discusses how the global good will tour that the astronauts took aboard VC 137 B (otherwise known as Boeing 707 Air Force One) played a significant role in the United States’ foreign relations strategies at the time. After meeting the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the USS Hornet, President Nixon delivered a speech in Guam that outlined what came to be known as the Nixon Doctrine: an approach to foreign policy that highlighted his hopes and expectations for the conflict in Vietnam. Harmony notes that “Nixon used the lunar landing as a lesson for the higher ideals of peace and brotherhood.” The Apollo 11 astronauts traveled in Air Force One to cities in South America, Asia, Europe, and Africa chosen for geopolitical reasons. The tour was taxing and impacted the astronauts’ person lives in major ways. Michael Collins felt inspired to take on a role in the State Department, while Buzz Aldrin’s relationship with his wife became strained. You can learn more about the lesser known stories behind the Apollo 11 mission by checking out Harmony’s book!

Want to learn more about the Apollo 11 mission? Check out our Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission exhibit, presented in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, celebrates that historic flight. 


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Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission is organized by the National Air and Space Museum and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The exhibition is made possible by the support of Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, Joe Clark, Bruce R. McCaw Family Foundation, the Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, John and Susann Norton, and Gregory D. and Jennifer Walston Johnson. Transportation services for Destination Moon are provided by FedEx.

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