One small week for mankind: Before Apollo 11 there was Apollo 8 and Numiscollect remembers

Not strictly a moon landing celebration, Numiscollects latest entry in its ‘Meteorites’ series commemorates the Apollo 8 mission, without which Apollo 11 would not have been possible. Crewed by Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders, the mission was the first time that human beings had travelled beyond Earth’s orbit.

The coin is a higher-end item than most and the fifth in this Dutch producers range of three-ounce silver designs. Campo del Cielo debuted in 2016 and there have been two issues per year since. Ironically, the first coin differs from the following coins in basic design, having a concave reverse face instead of the convex strike of the next four. There are two signature features that have remained, however.

Firstly, there’s the piece of meteorite. That isn’t exclusive to this series of course, but something we like to see on this type of coin. A piece of actual moon meteorite is affixed to the reverse face of this one. Secondly, the coloured glass inlay in the middle, and the Apollo 8 coin depicts an image of the capsule in orbit around the moon. The high-relief strike textures the coin to simulate the lunar surface and it’s fully antiqued. Inscriptions are neat and unobtrusive, and the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II doesn’t infringe on the design too much.

We’ve been admirers of this series since its launch and this is a great addition. While previous coins have had a tight mintage of just 333, the Apollo 8 coin tops out at a positively miniscule 99 pieces. It’s sold out at the mint, so tracking one down will be a task in itself, but a cool and rare addition to the whole moon exploration genre. Hopefully, we’ll see some new additions to the series through 2019.

MINTS DESCRIPTION

After the big success of the 2017 Moon edition the series continues with a special edition. 50 years ago Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to leave earths orbit. Just 99 pieces are released!

Apollo 8, the second manned spaceflight mission in the United States Apollo space program, was launched on December 21, 1968, and became the first manned spacecraft to leave Earth orbit, reach the Earth’s Moon, orbit it and return safely to Earth. The three-astronaut crew – Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders became the first humans to: travel beyond low Earth orbit; see Earth as a whole planet; enter the gravity well of another celestial body (Earth’s moon); orbit another celestial body (Earth’s moon); directly see the far side of the Moon with their own eyes; witness an Earthrise; escape the gravity of another celestial body (Earth’s moon); and re-enter the gravitational well of Earth.

The 1968 mission, the third flight of the Saturn V rocket and that rocket’s first crewed launch, was also the first human spaceflight launch from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, located adjacent to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

APOLLO 8

Apollo 8, the second manned spaceflight mission flown in the United States Apollo space program, was launched on December 21, 1968, and became the first manned spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit, reach the Moon, orbit it, and return. The three-astronaut crew—Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders—were the first humans to witness and photograph an Earthrise and to escape the gravity of a celestial body. Apollo 8 was the third flight and the first crewed launch of the Saturn V rocket and was the first human spaceflight from the Kennedy Space Center, located adjacent to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Originally planned as the second crewed Apollo Lunar Module and command module test, to be flown in an elliptical medium Earth orbit in early 1969, the mission profile was changed in August 1968 to a more ambitious command-module-only lunar orbital flight to be flown in December, as the lunar module was not yet ready to make its first flight. Astronaut Jim McDivitt’s crew, who were training to fly the first lunar module flight in low Earth orbit, became the crew for the Apollo 9 mission, and Borman’s crew were moved to the Apollo 8 mission. This left Borman’s crew with two to three months’ less training and preparation time than originally planned, and replaced the planned lunar module training with translunar navigation training.

Apollo 8 took 68 hours (almost three days) to travel the distance to the Moon. The crew orbited the Moon ten times over the course of twenty hours, during which they made a Christmas Eve television broadcast in which they read the first ten verses from the Book of Genesis. At the time, the broadcast was the most watched TV program ever. Apollo 8’s successful mission paved the way for Apollo 11 to fulfill U.S. president John F. Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the Moon before the end of the 1960s. The Apollo 8 astronauts returned to Earth on December 27, 1968, when their spacecraft splashed down in the northern Pacific Ocean. The crew members were named Time magazine’s “Men of the Year” for 1968 upon their return. (Source: Wikipedia)

SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $20 CID (Cook Islands)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 93.3 grams
DIMENSIONS 65.0 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Colour glass inlay
MINTAGE 99
BOX / COA Yes / Yes
NUMISCOLLECT