Astronauts are special, but they’re not so special they don’t have to worry about life insurance. As a matter of fact, they have to worry about life insurance more than the Average Joe. Why? Because they risk their lives by going into space and leaving their families behind if something goes wrong — a prime example of why someone would enroll in life insurance. But, coverage for someone who is about to launch into space, let alone land on the moon, starts at an astronomical price (pun intended).
Not coming back to Earth was a very real possibility for Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. “You’re about to embark on a mission that’s more dangerous than anything any human has ever done before,” said Robert Pearlman, a space historian and collector with Collect Space. “And you have a family that you’re leaving behind on Earth, and there’s a real chance you will not be returning.”
So what did they do? The popular Apollo 11 trio had started to sign autograph after autograph, creating a demand for their “John Hancock”. About a month before their mission, they went into quarantine for rigorous training. Whenever they had a free moment, they signed hundreds of autographs, the most valuable of which would be on envelopes postmarked with important dates.
“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,” Pearlman said. “There was demand.”
The day Armstrong, Buzz, and Collins went to the moon, they signed a handful of envelopes and handed them to a friend. That friend postmarked them at the post office and gave hundreds of these slips to each astronaut’s family, giving them makeshift life insurance. Pearlman explained, “If they did not return from the moon, their families could sell them — to not just fund their day-to-day lives, but also fund their kids’ college education and other life needs.”
There was no need for this pseudo life insurance policy, however, as Apollo 11 returned to Earth on July 24th, 1969. Today, these postmarked envelopes can sell for as much as $30,000 each.
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