Here is another caravan trivia question for you: which iconic caravan brand was used as a mobile quarantine building to house the astronauts when they returned to earth after the Apollo 11 lunar landing?
As usual, here are some background and clues, so you might be able to work it out for yourself.
The first (and rather obvious) clue is that it was an American caravan brand, so maybe we should call it a “trailer” rather than a caravan. It was an iconic brand that is one of the most recognisable caravans in the world.
This brand started producing caravans in 1920s and is the only caravan brand from that era to survive to the present day. Given its later role in the space programme, it is rather appropriate that this brand was built using materials and design principles from the aircraft industry, as far back as the 1930s. The caravans are made of unpainted aluminium and have a rounded, aerodynamic shape. As a result, enthusiasts often refer to them as “Silver bullets”.
During the moon landing missions, there was concern that the astronauts might bring back contagious materials from the moon. So at the end of their mission, the Apollo 11 astronauts — Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins – were quarantined in a specially built caravan.
A doctor and cooking/cleaning assistant also stayed in the caravan, which NASA called the Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF). After three weeks of testing, they were given medical clearance to leave the van. The same approach was used for the next three lunar landing missions.
And the brand of caravan was… Airstream. You can read more about the history of Airstream here: www.airstream.com/company/facts
We have seen quite a few Airstreams in our travels in Australia, America and Britain. Some were being used as caravans for camping holidays, while others had been turned into mobile radio broadcasting studios, barber shops, cafes and even icecream stalls. Some caravans have all the fun.