Neil Armstrong's Life Insurance Came In The Form Of Autographs

In this July 20, 1969 photo provided by NASA shows Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface. Apollo 11 astrona
In this July 20, 1969 photo provided by NASA shows Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface. Apollo 11 astronauts trained on Earth to take individual photographs in succession in order to create a series of frames that could be assembled into panoramic images. This frame from Aldrin's panorama of the Apollo 11 landing site is the only good picture of mission commander Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface. The family of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, says he has died at age 82. A statement from the family says he died following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. It doesn't say where he died. Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon July 20, 1969. He radioed back to Earth the historic news of "one giant leap for mankind." Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin spent nearly three hours walking on the moon, collecting samples, conducting experiments and taking photographs. In all, 12 Americans walked on the moon from 1969 to 1972. (AP Photo/NASA, Buzz Aldrin)

Paying for life’s necessities can be tough, but if you’re a famous astronaut you might have a few more options than most.

Before Neil Armstrong went to the moon in 1969, he took some precautionary measures to make sure his family would be taken care of in case he didn’t come back. Instead of taking out a life insurance policy -- which was prohibitively expensive for someone going to the moon -- Armstrong and his fellow Apollo 11 astronauts signed a stack of "covers," or envelopes marked with important dates, that were given to their families and could be sold in case they died, NPR reports.

Unfortunately, having difficulty affording life insurance isn’t a problem limited to Armstrong, his career choice or the time period. Forty percent of Americans lack life insurance and nearly 50 million people don’t have enough of it, according to a J.D. Power and Associates survey from earlier this year.

In 1969, when Armstrong was preparing for his voyage, a life insurance policy could cost tens of thousands of dollars, according to Business Insider. At that time, astronauts were only taking home about $17,000 per year.

With the astronauts' fame skyrocketing in the lead-up to the launch “there was demand” for their autographs, space historian Robert Pearlman told NPR, making the memorabilia potentially profitable.

That demand hasn’t dissipated; an autographed photo of Armstrong in his white spacesuit typically goes for about $5,000 at auction, according to the Houston Chronicle. With Armstrong’s passing earlier this month, auction organizers expect the autographed photos to fetch at least 30 percent more.

(Hat tip: Business Insider.)



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