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Blog > Apollo insurance covers

Some weeks ago, the world celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first humans walking on the moon. Reliving the experience of the Apollo 11 mission was an emotional event all around the world, not just for the millions of people who remember watching the live broadcast on TV with bated breath, but also for the younger generations of dreamers that those astronauts have inspired.

As you can imagine, landing on the Sea of Tranquility is a risky adventure, requiring all sorts of preparations. There’s physical and scientific training to go through, and checklists for all sorts of procedures, but there’s also a more down-to-earth side of things, like life insurance. Can you imagine the price of the insurance for such a perilous and unique mission though? Yup, it’s pretty much astronomical! So how were astronauts supposed to make sure their families were looked after in the event they didn’t make it back to Earth?

When faced with this situation, Apollo 11 astronauts Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong came up with a cunning secret plan: postal covers! Apollo Mission covers

They were famous and their autographs were greatly prized, so they decided to sign dozens of special envelopes in advance, featuring space-themed stamps and motives. These were to be hand-cancelled by friends at the post office on the day that they landed on the moon, and later delivered to their families. In case something happened to them, they hoped these autographed covers could be sold to collectors, in order to give their families some financial security.

Thankfully, they all came back safe and sound from this grand adventure, and didn’t need to use the postal covers as insurance. 😅 But it was still a brilliant plan! And as expected, these special philatelic items became collectibles, and are highly sought after by astrophilatelists, the branch of philately that focus on space-themed stamps. They continued to be made by astronauts until the 16th Apollo mission, and you can discover more of them on this page. Neat! 🌔

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19 comments so far

ned44440, Ireland
Fabulous. You learn a lot with this wonderful hobby of ours and spread pleasure and happiness too 🙋😀
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renatoBG, Serbia
This is also very interesting story about Moon covers:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_15_postal_covers_incident
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Leslyn, United States of America
What a cool story! I had never heard it before. Thank you for bringing it to our attention! 🎉😊
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Tranchile, Guernsey
Brilliant story and as a stamp collector would love one of those in my collection. David Le Conte who runs our observatory here in Guernsey used to work for NASA and was part of that Apollo 11 space Programme. We have produced some special stamps to celebrate the moon landing 50 years ago.
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betslets, United States of America
Brilliant timing for this blog. We just returned from a visit to Space Center-Houston which continues to have some events surrounding the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. They also had some specific souvenirs commemorating the event, but (or maybe I wasn't looking hard enough?) I only found a few Space Center/NASA postcards, and none from Apollo 11. It was very exciting to spend the day visiting the Center, viewing the many exhibits, taking the tram tour which stopped at Mission Control, and listening to various presentations.
I remember July 20, 1969 as I was at work watching (with awe) the Moon Landing on a portable black & white t.v. at my desk. We had also visited the Houston NASA facility during the 1980s after moving there. I look forward to what the future holds for space travel.
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msquared47, United States of America
A wonderful story! I love anything to do with our Space program and am happy to see it in our Postcrossing world.
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saikat_das, India
Nice.
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Sfander, Canada
That info is almost unbelievable, but I expect their families wouldn't have been compensated anymore than if they had been killed in action during a military exercise. It was smart thinking on their part to produce the covers. Thankfully, their expedition was a complete success and we are all still amazed by their hard earned endeavor. I remember it like it happened yesterday.
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smeuldersdrawings, Netherlands
- yep,
it wás a very fascinating black-white
life-broadcast 5o years ago !
I was at that time a young teenager
and I can still remember
that it had a great inpact not only on me
and my family .... ( 9 persons),
but the next day éveryone talked about it .... !
it was so wonderful to see their slow
movements and hear their enthousiastic
words,because there
was no gravity on the moon :-)
they were so brave !!!

* it is amazing to read in this blog-article
what they had planned for their families
just in case -
thank you for sharing !
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fisherman, Ireland
Nice plan - I'm glad they got back safely
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lostresviajeros, Austria
Great story! Thank you for telling it to us!
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konfuzedwithaK, United States of America
The USPS also issued special stamps for the recent anniversary of the moon landing
https://store.usps.com/store/product/buy-stamps/1969-first-moon-landing-S_479104
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ALFAVIT, Russia
I have often seen the sale of these envelopes on E-Bay. The price is high enough, but probably the story should be worth it.
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Talal90Ahmed, Iraq
so coooool and oretty -0
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Bossmare, United States of America
I found some postcards of Apollo 17 on Zazzle site. Bought some and have sent them out. They are pretty cool. I also like the new first class postage stamp for Apollo 11.
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Flippie, Canada
Thank you for the Story!
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Demmi, Romania
Nice story!
Huston ...Postcrossing-blog Base here, the Egal just read it!
Demmi out!
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RainWang, China
If you claim that the land on the moon surface is your property, not only set a flag there, but also build a post office and start sending postcard from there!!!!
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JPEsders, Germany
Actually, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had a postmarking device and stamps with them to be used on the lunar surface. But in the frenzy of their very short visit, they did not waste any time on this. They used the postmarker when they had rejoined the command module and were on their way back home. There is one cover now exhibited in the Smithsonian, and there were three "tests" of the postmarker on the back of a map that remained with the astronauts and were sold on the market later. For further reading, there is "Handbook on pioneer rocket mail and space mail" published by Walter M. Hopferwieser from Salzburg, that brings a fascinating account of all these letters. Contact walterhopferwieser@gmail.com for more details.
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