Giving remarks were David Ryder, Director of the United States Mint; Dr. Ellen Stofan, Director of the National Air & Space Museum; Gabe Sherman, Deputy Chief of Staff for NASA; and Walt Cunningham, Apollo 7 astronaut.
The coin is authorized by Public Law 114-282, which calls for the production of a curved $5 gold coin, curved $1 silver coins, curved half-dollar clad coins, and a curved 5-ounce $1 silver Proof coin.
The program honors the July 20, 1969 moon landing, in which astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took mankind’s historic first steps on the lunar surface. The feat was an amazing feat of engineering, ingenuity, and political will. President John F. Kennedy set the nation’s eyes on the moon in a speech before Congress on May 25, 1961, where he set a goal of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.
The thinking was strategic and multi-faceted. Strategically, the United States found it essential for western democracies to have a technological edge over the Soviet Union, both for reasons of prestige and for national security.
The Space Race, as it became known, instilled a unifying sense of national pride, but it was also very costly. Those costs were justified, however, because the massive infusion of federal dollars in areas of science, industry, and research, led to the development of hundreds of technological advances that had implications that reached far beyond the very narrow application of NASA’s space program.
In that respect, the Apollo 11 coin program is really a national commemoration not just of an important first step for mankind, but also of the grand possibility of mankind’s future, driven by our enormous potential to solve complex problems and advance our species through the application of technology.
Half of the surcharges from the sale of each Apollo 11 coin will go to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum’s upcoming “Destination Moon” exhibit. The exhibit is 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).