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Astronauts Fill Out Customs Forms, Too

Read Buzz Aldrin’s expense report and customs form from his Apollo 11 mission to the moon

Aldrin was became the second human to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969. (PD-USGOV-NASA)
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Even astronauts have to submit expense reports and customs forms — or at least, that was the case in 1969. Apollo 11 crew member Buzz Aldrin recently revealed that NASA reimbursed him for $33.31 for his “business trip” from Houston, Texas, to the moon, reports Nick Allen for The Telegraph.

Aldrin was just following orders: NASA required employees to fill out a “travel voucher memorandum” whenever they returned from a trip. As with most expense reports, theirs was long and complicated. On Aldrin’s July 1969 form, he listed his itinerary: Houston to Cape Kennedy, Florida, to the Moon, then back to the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii and home to Houston.

He tallied $33.31 in private ground transportation to get to and from Cape Kennedy, notes Jethro Mullen for CNN. Though the amount might seem relatively small by modern standards, Mullen points out that according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Aldrin’s tab translates to about $270 today.

Since the anniversary of the moon landing on July 20, Aldrin has been posting images of artifacts from the mission on social media. Last week, he tweeted his crew's custom form, too, showing that the mission's astronauts declared their cargo of moon rocks and dust samples.

The crew also had to account for their health, explains Mahita Gajanan at The Guardian. Though none fell ill during the trip, the customs form lists their disease exposure status as “to be determined.” Fear that they might have brought back germs from their epic moonwalk actually led the crew to be quarantined for three weeks.

If Aldrin’s experience serves as a model for future lunar travelers, perhaps it’s reassuring that the forms are just as mundane as those for a regular international business trip.

About Helen Thompson
Helen Thompson

Helen Thompson writes about science and culture for Smithsonian. She's previously written for NPR, National Geographic News, Nature and others.

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