Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin
Hello, everyone! Flip here, with the Florida quarter. This quarter is new in March and is all about exploring...so let's explore it!
Let's see now. On the left of the Florida side, there's a Spanish ship going to the tropical land now called Florida (on the right) to look around. Overhead: a space shuttle leaving Florida! I bet you didn't know there were space shuttles in the 1600s, did you!
I'm only kidding, of course. The ship and the shuttle are from two different times. But putting them together on this coin shows Florida's rich history of exploration.
So March is the big month for the Florida quarter. But there was a big March in the history of space exploration too: On March 3, 1969, the Apollo 9 space ship was launched from Florida's Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. Part of Apollo 9's mission was to test a new unit called "Spider." Spider was like a shuttle, the module that would actually land on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Spider would be carried by the main ship (the "command module"), which would stay in orbit around the moon while Spider carried the astronauts to the landing and back.
The test was this: an astronaut flew Spider away from the command module of Apollo 9 while they were in space. Then he flew Spider back to hook up with the command module again. The test was a success! Both ships returned with their crew safely to Earth. The whole mission took 10 days.
There was only one glitch in the mission: because of bad weather in the landing area, Apollo 9 had to circle the Earth one extra time to wait for better weather. But at least Spider was still ready for its trip to the moon later on, with Apollo 11!