US Coins

Astronauts receive medals

Former astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, Michael Collins and John H. Glenn Jr. were presented New Frontier gold medals Nov. 16 recognizing their contributions to the U.S. space program.

Images courtesy of U.S. Mint.

Bronze duplicates of a congressional gold medal honoring former astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, Michael Collins and John H. Glenn Jr. were placed on sale Nov. 16 by the United States Mint soon after the gold versions were presented to the recipients in a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

The individual gold medals for the four former astronauts were authorized under provisions of the New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal Act, Public Law 111-44, signed into law Aug. 7, 2009, by President Obama.

The medals were presented by the congressional leadership headed by Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Each .9995 fine gold medal is 3 inches in diameter and weighs between 15.5 to 16.5 troy ounces, according to U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White.

With a spot price of gold of roughly $1,750 per troy ounce, each medal’s current precious metal value is between $27,125 and $28,875.

The gold medals, along with the bronze duplicates, are without Mint mark from the Philadelphia Mint.

The enabling act for the medal honors Glenn as the first American astronaut to orbit Earth, aboard Friendship 7 in February 1962.

The other three astronauts were honored as members of the Apollo 11 crew — mission commander Armstrong and Aldrin being the first and second humans, respectively, to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969. Collins piloted the Apollo 11 command module and remained in lunar orbit during the surface mission.

The medal’s obverse, designed by Joel Iskowitz, a U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion master designer, and sculptured by U.S. Mint Medallic Sculptor Phebe Hemphill, depicts all four medal recipients in astronaut garb.

The reverse, also designed by Iskowitz, but sculptured by U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Donald Everhart II, depicts Apollo 11’s Lunar Excursion Module Eagle orbiting the moon and Glenn’s Friendship 7 Mercury capsule orbiting the Earth. The reverse bears the inscription we came in peace for all mankind.

The 3-inch bronze medal is offered at $44.95 and the 1.5-inch medal for $7.95 at the Mint’s website Check the site for information concerning shipping and handling charges. ¦

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