The 40th Anniversary of the launching of Apollo 11's first manned space mission to the moon has been all over the news during the past months.

But the Splashdown 2009 event last month celebrated a just as important event: the recovery of Apollo 11 when its astronauts arrived back on Earth.

The USS Hornet, moored at Alameda Point, North California, is the largest existing artefact from the mission to land men on the moon.

The Essex class carrier USS Hornet - one of the most decorated ships in the US Navy - was the ship that recover the astronauts and the Command Service Module (CSM) Columbia when they returned to Earth.

The Hornet is now a museum, and Splashdown2009  featured ship tours, interactive exhibits, and a display of moon rocks.

Exhibits included the NASA mobile quarantine facility from Apollo 14 (identical to the unit used for Apollo 11), and the Apollo capsule used to test the heat shield design.  

It also featured a special appearance by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the moon.

Buzz Aldrin, who piloted the Lunar Module for Apollo 11, gave a talk and signed copies of his memoir, Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon.

Additional signing at the event gave collectors and enthusiasts an opportunity to add value to their memorabilia with treasured autographs.

Additional special guests included NASA representatives and former USS Hornet crew members - including the Navy swimmer who was the first person to greet the astronauts after their return to Earth.

Aldrin then mingled with the crowd as part of an interactive history lesson.

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