• seperator

January 14, 1986


There have been many moments where coins have been a part of history. Unfortunately, they were not always part of history in the way that was originally intended.

Space Shuttle to take Liberty coins

By Burnett Anderson

Washington Bureau

For the first time, current commemorative U.S. coins will be officially carried into space when the shuttle Challenger next goes into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The launching is scheduled for Jan. 23 and the coins are to be carried by Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher from Concord, N.H., the first member of her profession to fly as a member of a spaceship crew.

Officials of the U.S. Liberty Coin program, marketing arm of the Treasury for the statue of Liberty commemorative coins, said arrangements had been made with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for McAuliffe to carry two three-coin sets aboard the flight.

They are hoping that the gesture will dramatize the efforts to help finance the restoration of the statue and Ellis Island Immigration Station with commemorative coins, particularly among young people.

One of the main goals of the coinage program, in addition to raising much needed cash for the two national monuments, is to encourage interest in coin collecting with a new generation of Americans.

The spokesman for the coin program emphasized that care had been taken to prohibit any commercial exploitation of the unique sets, one proof, one uncirculated, of the $5 gold pieces, silver dollars and clad half dollars.

They will be used for display and promotion purposes only and eventually they will wind up as museum pieces. In this case they may go to the immigration museum being planned for the Ellis Island project, rather than the Smithsonian’s national numismatic collections.

The idea of selecting a teacher to experience space flight was proposed by President Reagan some months ago. McAullife was selected from a large number of applicants and has been undergoing rigorous training for her unusual venture.