SPACE PROGRAM AND RACE TO THE MOON
The United States Mint has honored and featured the history of the U.S. space program in several of its designs, including the New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal, the 50 State Quarters® Program’s Ohio and Florida quarters, the Eisenhower, Bicentennial and Susan B. Anthony dollar coins and the Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Commemorative silver dollar.
Because of President John F. Kennedy’s tremendous leadership in the U.S. space program at its inception, it could also be said that the Kennedy half-dollar coin, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is part of our coin legacy of American success in space.
In 2011, the United States Mint created the New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal awarded to John Glenn, pilot of Friendship 7, the first American to orbit the earth, and to the crew of Apollo II—Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr., and Michael Collins—who were the first men to land on the moon and return to Earth.
The United States Mint’s 50 State Quarters® Program included two circulating coins celebrating the U.S. space program—the Ohio quarter and the Florida quarter. John Glenn and 18 other astronauts who ventured to space are natives of Ohio, and the 2002 Ohio quarter design, "Birthplace of Aviation Pioneers," honors its native space pilots by featuring a suited astronaut.
The 2004 Florida quarter’s design, "Gateway to Discovery," features a space shuttle. Florida is home to the Kennedy Space Center, known during President Kennedy’s term as Cape Canaveral. As we approach the anniversary of the July 20, 1969, moonwalk and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy half-dollar coin, we highlight President Kennedy’s role in the success of the U.S. space program.