On July 20, 1969, NASA completed the seemingly impossible Apollo 11 mission to put the first two men – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin – on the Moon. The pair made history when they set foot on the lunar surface, bringing an end to the Space Race by burying the US Flag in the dusty surface. Meanwhile, orbiting around the Moon, Michael Collins could only wait patiently, hoping his colleagues would return safely.
He would become known as the “loneliest man in the universe” as he passed the Moon’s dark side, completely cut off from radio signal back on Earth, but Collins claims he was not fazed.
Speaking at the 15th Explorers Club Dinner in New York City in 2019, he said: “I was amazed because the emphasis in the press was about me being the loneliest man in the whole lonely world in the whole lonely orbit.
“You know what I was worried about was the white mice.”
At this point, Aldrin turned to his colleague, exclaiming his confusion with a loud “what?”
But there was logic to Collins’ claim.
He added: “When we came back from the Moon, we were going to be in quarantine for a couple of weeks with a whole colony of white mice.
“If one of those poor little things didn’t do too well we were in deep trouble.
“We might have brought back some disease, so every time I was asked about being lonely all I could think was ‘oh God, those poor little mice’.”
Collins went on to explain how he kept a watch of his rodent companions, and that it was actually quite peaceful for him.
READ MORE: Moon landing: Buzz Aldrin admits ‘it was so well staged’ in unearthed Apollo 11 footage