Saturn V moon rocket art revealed for 2024 American Innovation $1 coin

black and white drawing of a coin, showing the saturn v rocket launching with the moon in the background
Alabama's 2024 American Innovation dollar coin will honor NASA's historic Saturn V rocket, which launched nine missions to the moon and the country's first space station. (Image credit: U.S. Mint/

The United States Mint is getting ready to put a rocket in your pocket.

As first announced in 2022, the state of Alabama chose NASA's historic Saturn V to appear on a $1 coin as its example of American Innovation. With the dollar piece now nearing its Spring 2024 release, the mint has revealed the final design for the moon rocket-adorned coin.

"The American Innovation $1 Coin representing Alabama recognizes the invention of the Saturn V rocket," reads the mint's website. "The Saturn V rocket was developed to support the Apollo space program for human exploration to the moon. NASA launched 13 Saturn V rockets between 1967 and 1973."

Nine of the rockets launched crews to orbit or land on the moon. The last Saturn V to fly delivered the Skylab orbital workshop into Earth orbit.

Though the Saturn V flew from Florida, it is associated with Alabama, given it was designed and partially built at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

Related: Saturn V: The mighty U.S. moon rocket

One of only three remaining Saturn V rockets as seen on display at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (Image credit: EverGreene)

The reverse, or tails-side, design of Alabama's American Innovation dollar coin captures the power and force of the 36-story-tall Saturn V by showing the rocket lifting off as a large full moon fills the background.

The design is nearly identical to the concept created by Justin Kunz, a member of the mint's Artistic Infusion Program. Kunz' proposal was favored both by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and the members of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), a panel that advises the Secretary of the Treasury, from a choice of 11 candidate designs.

The CCAC recommended adding the inscription "Saturn V," which was adopted in the final sculpt by medallic artist Phebe Hemphill.

The Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), which also reviewed the proposals, preferred a different depiction of the Saturn V, though they noted that they liked the billowing plume from the rocket's five F-1 engines as depicted by Kunz.

Ultimately, the decision was made by Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen.

The obverse, or heads-side, design, which is common to all of the coins in the American Innovation series, features a representation of the Statue of Liberty in profile. Created by medallic artist Craig Campbell, the obverse also includes a privy mark of a stylized gear, representing industry and innovation.

The common obverse or heads side of the American Innovation $1 coins depicts the Statue of Liberty. (Image credit: U.S. Mint/

The Saturn V dollar will be the 23rd coin in the American Innovation series to be released since 2018 and the second in 2024. It will be preceded by Illinois' entry celebrating the steel plow and followed by a coin depicting the life-saving direct current defibrillator, which was invented by cardiologist Bernard Lown of Maine.

Alabama's coin is the third in the program to feature a space or astronomy theme. The first, issued for Delaware in 2019, honored astronomer Annie Jump Cannon, who invented a system for classifying stars that is still in use today. A year later, the mint released Maryland's coin celebrating the Hubble Space Telescope.

A fourth possible space design was submitted by New York with its inclusion of the Apollo Lunar Module among other suggested themes for its 2021 coin. The CFA and CCAC, though, passed on the moon lander and recommended art featuring the Erie Canal instead.

The American Innovation golden dollar coins are legal tender but are not released directly into circulation. Like the others, Alabama's Saturn V coin will be offered directly from the mint in rolls and bags and later in proof and reverse proof sets.

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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.