Astronauts Couldn’t Apply for Life Insurance -- So They Did Autographs

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Astronauts Couldn’t Apply for Life Insurance -- So They Did Autographs



The Apollo 11 mission may be remembered today as a “giant leap for humankind” but back then, it was known best to the families of the Apollo team as possibly one of the most dangerous missions to exist. So, it would be reasonable for them to look for a way to ensure their family, right? 

Except during that time, it wasn’t so easy. 

According to the NPR or the National Public Radio, a website breaking national and world news, the Apollo 11 mission was so dangerous that space historian and collector Robert Pearlman called it “a mission that’s more dangerous than anything any human has ever done before.” That much is true. There are so many things that could go wrong just from the moment they stepped into the rocket that will take them to the moon. 

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong if NASA was not careful, and so the astronauts feared that something bad might happen to them should they push through. They continued on bravely, but already desired to make plans so that if they don’t come back, at least they wouldn’t be leaving their families to fend off for themselves.


Apollo 11 team with their autographs in their picture / Photo by: Heritage Auctions


In an attempt to circumvent the fact that they couldn’t apply for life insurance because of the fact that such a circumstance would mean the insurance application would also consist of so many zeroes, the team, instead, resorted to a more unconventional approach. 

Even before the Apollo mission launched, the astronauts already had this foresight, as Pearlman recounts; “These astronauts had been signing autographs since the day they were announced as astronauts, and they knew even though eBay didn’t exist back then, that there was a market for such things. There was a demand.” 

The plan was to use these signatures to ensure that, in case their tragic death happens in the cold expanse of space, at least the families left would be able to use some money to live their day-to-day lives, pay for their children’s college education, and other things. 

Pearlman shared that even when they went into quarantine a month before the mission, the signed hundreds of covers, had a friend bring them to the post office, had it postmarked, and sent out to the astronaut’s families. 

Luckily, there was no need for this rudimentary life insurance system as the astronauts eventually came back down successfully. 

If you do happen to find yourself in a space memorabilia auction, these autographs sell $30,000 a pop.


A mail with an astronaut's autograph / Photo by: via NPR