Who Insured The Apollo Astronauts?
They blasted off aboard a rocket filled with over 5 million pounds of highly explosive fuel, they traversed the deadly vacuum of space in a cramped container with a limited oxygen supply, and they navigated themselves to the distant white rock in our sky. Then they had to make the return trip back.
Oh, and they did it all with less computer power then you have in your current cell phone.
It was an incredibly risky mission. Even with today’s huge technological advances, it’s still a highly dangerous and potentially deadly situation some 40 years later.
One reader wanted to know, “Who provided life insurance for the Apollo astronauts?”
Due to government regulations at the time, NASA themselves were forbidden to pay for life insurance for the astronauts. The astronaut’s paychecks were respectable, but they weren’t large enough to cover the cost of the premiums of private insurance. Premiums which were now sky high due to the nature of their job.
Surely it would’ve been a fantastic marketing opportunity. Most businesses should be lining up to get their name & brand attached to one of mankind’s greatest achievements, right?
Unfortunately for the astronauts, nobody was willing to take the risk. The Apollo astronauts were literally uninsurable. Since many had families that would need to be taken care of financially in the event of their death, this was unacceptable. They had to find a way to insure themselves. They did find one ingenious way – they held an auction.
Each of the Apollo astronauts signed small white postcards or “insurance covers” that were signed by every astronaut involved. To make sure they received the maximum value, they waited as close to launch as possible before signing them.
The insurance cover’s value was expected to sky-rocket should the worst happen, and the deceased’s family would be safe knowing they could cash in their unique insurance policy if needed. Fortunately for the astronauts and the Apollo program, the insurance policy was never needed.
Today, the insurance covers are now in the hands of private collectors and displayed in museums. Occasionally, an insurance cover will show up in auction houses or even on ebay. If you were interested in owning a piece of history, you had better break out the checkbook. Certified insurance covers usually sell for between $10,000 and $40,000 USD.
Bonus: Click here to read the speech that Nixon would have given if the Apollo Astronauts were stranded.