Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing
Published in the Barefoot Tattler
December 1, 2017 -
I was fifteen when President Kennedy delivered his famous address declaring America’s mission to the Moon. Like so many Americans, the President’s call inspired me and I personally wanted very much to be a part of it. As a young man, I seized the opportunity to work on the Apollo program as an inspector with McDonnell Douglas. I am both grateful and humbled to have been a part of such an exciting experience.
The United States remains the only nation to have landed humans on the Moon and returned them safely to Earth. It is among the greatest achievements in the history of the human race and has significantly contributed to America’s leadership on the world stage. On July 16th, 1969, a mere eight years after the first American, Alan Shepherd, traveled into space, a Saturn V rocket blasted-off from Merritt Island and raced to the Moon. Four days later, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the lunar surface as Michael Collins stood over watch.
The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission moon landing is less than two years from now. To recognize and celebrate this awesome feat, the House and Senate just recently passed my bipartisan legislation to authorize the minting and sale, in 2019, of a limited number of gold, silver, and “clad” coins in commemoration of the Apollo 11 mission. The coins would be “domed, with the reverse featuring a representation of a spacesuit visor similar to the famous ‘Buzz Aldrin on the Moon’ photograph.”
Our legislation commemorates our nation’s commitment to space exploration, our pioneering spirit, and our unmatched ingenuity. An estimated 400,000 Americans across the country contributed to the Apollo 11 mission’s success. Components for the Saturn V rocket, command and service module, lunar module and other critical parts were literally manufactured in every state of the Union from Huntsville, Alabama to Seal Beach, California; New Orleans, Louisiana to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
American space exploration continues to inspire our next generation of pioneers and innovators. As such, we were deliberate in our efforts to ensure that the sale of these coins would support developing the next generation of space explorers while also honoring the courage and sacrifice of NASA astronauts lost in the line of duty. Proceeds will support college scholarships for students pursuing science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) degrees, educational initiatives that promote space exploration, the Astronauts Memorial that honors the astronauts whom have fallen in the line of duty, and the National Air and Space Museum’s new “Destination Moon” exhibit– all at no cost to taxpayers.
The United States’ leadership in space exploration has benefited our country's national security and economy, strengthened our international relationships, advanced scientific discovery and technology, and vastly improved life here on Earth. Our commemorative coin will serve as a reminder of how our space program helps us prepare to meet the challenges of the future while also honoring past achievements.