On April 12, 1981, the space shuttle Columbia roared off the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the first mission in what would be a 30-year program, culminating in July 2011 with the final space mission of the shuttle Atlantis. All told, the five active shuttles completed 135 flights, carrying a total of 852 fliers on 21,152 trips around the Earth and traveling 542,398,878 miles.
Cook Islands (New Zealand), Coin Invest Trust, and Space-Coins have worked together to bring the history of the historic space-shuttle program to coin collectors. The result is “Space Shuttle,” an antiqued-silver coin with selective gold plating and an unprecedented, innovative feature: Enclosed in a disc at the center of each reverse is glittering dust of finely ground, space-flown material taken from each shuttle in the program, including the 1976 prototype shuttle Enterprise.
The reverse design is divided into six sections, each containing a depiction of one of the space shuttles, selectively plated in gold, with the shuttle’s name above. Clockwise from the top, they are: ENTERPRISE, COLUMBIA, CHALLENGER, DISCOVERY, ATLANTIS, and ENDEAVOR. The date of issue, 2016, is at far right. The capsule of space-flown material is situated at the center. (Trivia: Each shuttle was named for an existing ship or watercraft, except the Enterprise, which was named for the space ship in Star Trek by popular request from the public.
The obverse depicts HM Queen Elizabeth II, as required of legal-tender coins of New Zealand. The selected portrait is the classic profile by Ian Rank-Broadley, introduced on New Zealand coins in 1999. The surrounding legend, in three parts, reads ELIZABETH II / COOK ISLANDS / 5 DOLLARS.
Each coin is enclosed in an acrylic capsule housed in a wooden box, which is placed in a colorful outer mailer. Only 500 are minted; each comes with a numbered certificate of authenticity. World Mint News Blog sponsor First Coin offers the “Space Shuttle” collector coins, with free international shipping. Click here to learn more about the coins, or to place an order.
|Availability||Preorder now; ships February/March|
|Content||1 troy oz.|
|Denomination||$5 (New Zealand)|
|Year of Issue||2016|
|Exterior Decoration||Gold-plated details|
|Package type||Wooden box with color package|
|Numbered Certificate of Authenticity||Yes|
NASA has an excellent shuttle-program fact sheet, which can be downloaded for free. ❑