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Rare Piece of Apollo History Landed in Rural Alabama

August 13, 2007

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For the past 24 years, Marion, Alabama has been home to a very rare artifact from the Apollo Space Program. The Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF) used by the Apollo 12 astronauts will be transferred from Marion, in Perry County to Huntsville where it will be refurbished and then displayed at the Davidson Saturn V Rocket Center opening at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in January 2008.
 
Following its use by NASA and the Centers for Disease Control, the Airstream trailer was used for student housing in Marion by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1983 until 1995 when it was inherited by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Alabama Aquatic Biodiversity Center (AABC) as surplus inventory. One of four MQFs used by the National Aeronautics and Space Association (NASA) in the Apollo program, the Marion MQF was used to quarantine the astronauts of Apollo 12, the sixth manned mission and the second to land on the moon. Following splashdown after a successful lunar mission on Nov. 24, 1969, astronauts Pete Conrad, Richard Gordon, and Alan Bean remained in isolation in the MQF for a few days until it was determined they had brought back no contaminants from the moon.
 
“We are very excited to team up with the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to make available this remarkable piece of our history for the public to see,” said Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner M. Barnett Lawley. “What was thought to have been destroyed in a forest fire in Georgia but instead was sitting in Marion at the Biodiversity Center all these years can now be shared with the world.”
 
MQFs were used for the Apollo 11, 12 and 14 missions. With the addition of new MQF to the Space and Rocket Center, there will be a total of three on display (Apollo 11 – Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and Apollo 14 – U.S.S. Hornet, in Alameda, California.)
 
The Alabama Aquatic Biodiversity Center is the largest state non-game recovery program of its kind in the United States. The mission of AABC is to promote the conservation and restoration of rare freshwater species in Alabama waters and in turn, restore cleaner water in Alabama's waterways. The Alabama Aquatic Biodiversity Center is located near Marion, in rural Perry County. The Center is a complex of four buildings that sits on 36 acres of property near the Cahaba River and adjacent to the Marion State Fish Hatchery, Perry Lakes Park and The Nature Conservancy's Barton's Beach Preserve.
 
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.
 
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