Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Since the Jefferson Space Museum has the world's largest collection of space flown US $2 bills spanning the history of US manned spaceflight, we have always been interested in other space flown currency. Part of the historic lore around astronauts carrying currency into space includes the tradition of the crews signing one dollar bills, flying them, and turning them over to the National Aeronautical Association (NAA) for their official flight certifications post the mission. Over the years, I have talked to astronauts about these bills -- all have recalled them, and recalled turning them over to the NAA official involved...but no one knowing what ever happened to them. I have also spoken with the NAA, and senior folks there were also aware of the tradition, but had no record of whatever happened to the bills. Then one day I was researching on the Smithsonian website, and stubbled across the bills, which you can see by clicking here, and then scrolling down to the middle of the page where you will see groupings of dollar bills signed by all the Apollo flight crews. These bills all flew on their respective Apollo missions. Amazingly, these bills are not displayed anywhere at the Smithsonian, but are in storage. But at least -- like the Jefferson Space Museum -- they can be enjoyed online. These bills represent the greatest assemblage of space flown US $1 bills in existence across all of the Apollo manned missions. A collection like this would be impossible for private collectors to assemble. But there is hope to acquire one or two of the bills. Note that some flights have 4 bills (one for each crew member, and one for the NAA) which were all turned over. Other flights, like Apollo 14 and 13, only have one bill in the archive...perhaps the crew members kept their bills. One can always hope! :) In the end, however, these bills represent an important part of the tradition of US astronauts carrying currency into space -- as important of an influence as the old fighter pilot short-snorter tradition.

This is one of the 4 flown one dollar bills from the Apollo 11 flight used by the crew to certify their flight with the National Aeronautical Association (NAA). This bill is part of the Smithsonian collection, which has all the NAA bills from the manned Apollo flights. Not that the bill is crew signed, as well as signed by the NAA representative who received the bill from the crew upon their return.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Jefferson Space Museum logo takes a trip to the edge of space! A few weeks back, we blogged about JP Aerospace and their wonderful program of pong-sat student space experiments using high altitude balloons. We decided to support their noble effort, and sponsor a mission, sending the JSM logo up to the edges of the atmosphere -- and below you can see some of the pictures from the mission, which took place at the end of March. We love the first picture -- if you look closely, you can see the moon out to the far left, deep in space. These are the inital pictures we have received back from JP Aerospace. Many more are on their way. We hope you enjoy -- and if you ever want to do something special with your company logo, or a special message -- why not help out a great cause and sponsor a pong-sat mission today?

The JSM logo on its trip to the edge of space -- with the moon out in the distance!

Astronaut Tom gets some of his first looks out toward the curve of the earth, high above the clouds.

Ground Control to Major Tom.... :)

All good things must come to an end: the balloon pops, and Tom is set to come back to Earth.

Moments before landing!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Last week, it was reported by Michele Orzano at Coinworld that a lunar surface flown $20 bill sold via private treaty sale for "well into the six figures" -- an amazing amount, but testament to the inherent value of these rare items. Michele wrote a further follow up article on this particular bills provenance. A good read, and it makes one wonder what the entire Jefferson collection would be worth on the secondary market, given the price paid for this singular bill.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

This large note US $2 bill flew on the last flight of the Mercury space program in the space suit pocket of astronaut Gordon Cooper. This bill, along with all of the Jefferson Space Museum bills, has been officially slabbed and certified by PMG. Note the hand written flight certification and autograph on the bill by astronaut Cooper.

On the back of each bill's label in the PMG slab, the bill's flight status is referenced.
The Jefferson Space Museum is pleased to announce that all of the space flown bills in the collection have been officially certified and slabbed by Paper Money Guaranty, one of the leading paper money authentication and grading services. We took the bills to the PMG offices in Sarasota back in November. We presented PMG with the originals (and copies for their files, as we retain the originals) of all of the background paper work on each bill -- their history, their flight provenance, and all relevant documentation. Copies of this official documentation will always reside with PMG. We took this step of further authenticating these bills for their appeal to the numismatic community, after PMG's sister company NGC certified Buzz Aldrin's lunar surface flown Peach Dollar from Apollo 11. NGC also slabs, grades and certifies space flown Robbins and Flightline medallions, making it a natural for us to select PMG for the space flown $2 bills from our collection.

Monday, February 20, 2012

This bill is one of only a small number of $2 bills to have flown with John Glenn on his historic space flight. This bill was placed aboard the capsule by ground support crew member Joe Tramel.
50 years ago today, John Glenn rocketed into orbit on Friendship 7-- making him the first American to orbit the Earth as the US began to catch up to the Russians in the great space race. The Jefferson Space Museum is proud to have a $2 bill that flew along with John on that historic flight. The bill is pictured above, and you can read more about it in the Gallery Section of the museum website, or here on the blog by clicking here.