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NASA Not on Pluto
July 08, 2008

There is legislation kicking around to honor the National Aeronautics and Space Administration otherwise known to many by its initials, NASA.

Those of us who grew up with the space race think of it with a little bit of awe.

A coin issued by the Cook Islands with the theme of Yuri Gagarin's first manned space flight in 1961 put me in a reflective mood.

Isn't it interesting that there are so few coins related to the space programs from either Russia or the United States? Those that do exist tend to be from other countries, like the Cook Islands, the Marshall Islands, etc.

In the 1980s Numismatic News asked Mint Director Donna Pope about putting the then new Space Shuttle on a coin. Her response was that it would look old-fashioned as time passed.

I can't argue with the comment, but I am still puzzled as to why the United States hasn't done more to commemorate the space program, either the early astronauts, or the various programs in sequence from Mercury to Gemini to Apollo.

Even the NASA coin legislation asks for depictions of the sun and planets rather than what the organization has achieved.

Why is that?

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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