HomeUS CoinsSenate Passes 50th Anniversary Apollo 11 Commemorative Coin Bill

Senate Passes 50th Anniversary Apollo 11 Commemorative Coin Bill

Next stop, President Obama’s desk

By Hubert Walker for CoinWeek ….

On Saturday, December 10, the United States Senate passed the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 2726) without amendment. The bill now goes to the president, who is expected to sign it.

The Apollo 11 commemorative coin bill authorizes the production and sale of coins honoring the 50th anniversary of the first time any nation had set foot upon the surface of another planetary body and the mission that made it happen.

Representative Bill Posey (R-FL8) introduced the bill (H.R. 2726) on June 10, 2015. Its main cosponsors all come from Congressional districts that played key parts in the Apollo space program: Representatives Gene Green (D-TX29) and John Culberson (R-TX7) represent the city of Houston, where mission conrol is based. Rod Blum’s (R-IA1) district includes Cedar Rapids, which is where Apollo 11 radio manufacturer Rockwell Collins is based. Posey himself was part of the Apollo 11 support crew when he worked for McDonnell Douglas and has long advocated for American exploration of space.

The Senate version of the bill (S. 2957) is sponsored by Bill Nelson (D-FL) and cosponsored by Marco Rubio (R-FL), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI).


The bill authorizes the production of a $5 gold Uncirculated coin, a $1 silver Uncirculated coin, a half dollar clad Uncirculated coin, and a $1 silver Proof coin. The .900 fine gold coin will weigh 8.359 grams and have a diameter of 21.59 mm (0.85 in). The Uncirculated silver coin will have a fineness of .900 pure silver, weigh 26.73 grams and have a diameter of 38.10 mm (1.50 in). The clad half dollar will weigh 11.34 grams and have a diameter of 30.607 mm (1.205 in).

The .999 fine silver Proof coin will weigh five ounces and have a diameter of 76.2 mm (3 in).

Mintages will be limited to 50,000 for the $5 gold, 400,000 for the Uncirculated silver dollar, 750,000 for the clad half dollar and 100,000 pieces for the Proof silver dollar. As usual, the four coins will be legal tender and treated as numismatic items under Title 31 of the United States Code.

The bill also specifies that the coins be curved or cup-shaped, made in a “fashion similar to the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame 75th Anniversary Commemorative Coin“.

The reverse design will be a representation of a famous photograph taken on the Moon of astronaut Buzz Aldrin facing the camera with his visor down, reflecting the lunar lander and U.S. flag back to the viewer. Aldrin’s visor should have a mirror-like finish, while the rest of his helmet should be frosted. The “Sense of Congress” as outlined in Section 3 of the bill is that the reverse design should continue over the edge of the coin where it would connect with the obverse.

A public competition will determine the common obverse design. The design should be “emblematic” of the American space program leading up to he Moon landing. A prize of at least $5,000 will be awarded to the winner, though the Treasury Secretary is free to decide to compensate the winning artist further.

The inscriptions LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and E PLURIBUS UNUM will also be on the coins, as will the denomination and the year 2019.

The Apollo 11 50th Anniversary commemorative coin program will be issued only during the calendar year 2019.


Presented below are the surcharges for each coin in the program (this is in addition to the Mint’s pricing, which is determined by factors such as the spot prices of precious metals and the recouping of the cost of production):

  • $5 Gold Uncirculated: $35
  • $1 Silver Uncirculated: $10
  • Half Dollar Clad Uncirculated: $5
  • $1 5oz Silver Proof: $50

Half of the surcharges collected will go to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum’s upcoming “Destination Moon” exhibit. The exhibit is currently set to open in 2020.

One-quarter of the remaining surcharges will go to the Astronaut Memorial Foundation, which maintains the Space Mirror Memorial (also known as the Astronaut Memorial) at the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The other quarter will go to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which awards college scholarships to exceptional students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

One Small Step

The Apollo 11 spacecraft was successfully launched aboard a Saturn V rocket on July 16, 1969. Four days later, the landing module touched down in the Sea of Tranquility (Mare Tranquillitatis) and the astronauts, mission commander Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin became the first and second humans, respectively, ever to step foot on an alien world. When he took his first step onto the surface of the Moon, Armstrong delivered the famous line “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The United States would make five more successful Moon landings, with Apollo 17 departing for Earth on December 19, 1972. We have yet to return.

We have, however, honored the Apollo 11 mission numismatically since. Both the Eisenhower dollar series (from 1971 through 1974) and the Susan B. Anthony dollar series (during the entire 1979-81 run plus the 1999 issue) featured an eagle preparing to land over the lunar surface with the Earth in the background – a design based on the Apollo 11 mission patch (above). And in 2011, Armstrong, Aldrin and Apollo 11 pilot Michael Collins (who stayed in lunar orbit during the mission) were honored with the New Frontiers Congressional Gold Medal. Also honored that day was Mercury Seven astronaut and future Senator John Glenn (D-OH), who recently died on Thursday, December 8.

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Hubert Walker
Hubert Walker
Hubert Walker has served as the Assistant Editor of CoinWeek.com since 2015. Along with co-author Charles Morgan, he has written for CoinWeek since 2012, as well as the monthly column "Market Whimsy" for The Numismatist and the book 100 Greatest Modern World Coins (2020) for Whitman Publishing.

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