Neil Armstrong's Moon Landing 'Insurance Cover' to be Sold for Scholarships

A rare Apollo 11 'insurance cover' from the personal collection of Neil Armstrong is being sold to benefit the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. The cover was donated by Armstrong's son.
A rare Apollo 11 'insurance cover' from the personal collection of Neil Armstrong is being sold to benefit the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. The cover was donated by Armstrong's son. (Image credit: Astronaut Scholarship Foundation/

When, 45 years ago, Neil Armstrong added his autograph to the envelope now featured in the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's upcoming auction, he intended for its sale to provide for his family in the event he did not make it back from the moon.

Now, more than four decades later, Armstrong's son has provided the rare memento to the auction so it can benefit the next generation of space explorers.

"I hope that the proceeds from this donation will help the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation promote its mission of providing scholarship funds for students who are pursuing science, technology, mathematics or engineering (STEM) focused degrees, and advocating for STEM education in general," Rick Armstrong, the late moonwalker's older son, told [Neil Armstrong: A Space Icon in Pictures]

NASA's historic Apollo 11 moon mission landed the first astronauts on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. See how the mission worked in this infographic. (Image credit: Karl Tate/

Rick Armstrong poses next to a portrait of his father at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in California. (Image credit: USAF/Rebecca Amber)

The prized envelope, which in addition to being signed by the Apollo 11 astronauts was also postmarked at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on the same day they launched to the moon, served as a kind of insurance. Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins autographed a few hundred of the envelopes, which were distributed to their families.

If the moon landing mission failed and the astronauts did not return to Earth, the crew's spouses and children could sell the signed envelopes to augment what the astronauts' life insurance policies provided.

Of course, Apollo 11 succeeded. Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969 and he and his two crewmates returned safely to Earth four days later. Even so, their "insurance covers," as collectors refer to the envelopes, have become sought after as artifacts of the first moon landing.

Over the past few decades, insurance covers from Aldrin's and Collins' collections have sold for thousands of dollars. Some of the cacheted envelopes have exceeded $10,000 at auction.

But never has a cover, or for that matter, anything else, been offered for sale from Armstrong's personal collection. The envelope in the scholarship foundation's auction is the first to surface from the Armstrong estate since he died in August 2012.

"It is an honor that Rick Armstrong chose to donate his dad's insurance cover in support of the scholars," Tammy Knowles, executive director of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, said. "Neil Armstrong and the Apollo mission inspired America. Rick's contribution continues his father's legacy by helping to inspire a new generation of innovators and explorers who will follow in his father's footsteps and lead America's next frontier."

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which was created in 1984 by the surviving Mercury astronauts, today funds 28 $10,000 scholarships, the highest monetary award given to undergraduate students pursuing science and technology degrees based solely on merit in the U.S. To date, the ASF has awarded more than $3.7 million to students nationwide.

A good portion of those funds have been raised through the foundation's biannual auctions, which offer rare space memorabilia and astronaut-led experiences.

The current sale, which features the Armstrong insurance cover, will open for bidding on the foundation's website on Saturday (Nov. 1). The auction ends a week later on Nov. 8 with the last bids being placed both online and in person at the foundation's Astronaut Autograph and Memorabilia Show annual dinner to be held at the Hilton hotel in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

In addition to the insurance cover, the auction's 32 lots include a last opportunity to join Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell for dinner at his family-owned restaurant in Chicago (Lovells of Lake Forest is closing in 2015); a makeshift ornament that in 1973 adorned the Christmas tree aboard the U.S. Skylab space station, the first Christmas tree in space; and a trajectory map for a space shuttle mission that never flew signed by 36 astronauts.

The Armstrong insurance cover will open with a minimum bid of $15,000. The Lovell dinner opens at $4,500. Many of the other items' lots will begin at just $50.

To preview the auction catalog or register to bid, see:

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Robert Z. Pearlman Editor, Contributor

Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.