THEY were joyful. They were uninhibited. They were grandly, gloriously drunk. They were puffing cigars, hugging girls, waving miniature American flags, and pushing each other —fully clothed—into pools. The kissing never stopped. The noise level was astronomical. And so it should have been: the NASA communities of Houston, Huntsville and Cocoa Beach had sent three men to the moon and back. The revelry at splashdown time was fittingly feverish.

At the Nassau Bay motel, across the street from Houston's Manned Spacecraft Center, NASA engineers, secretaries and technicians gathered around the large pool to feast on barbecued chicken and beef and corn on...

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