Coin legislation entitled NASA 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act (S. 2159) should receive the President’s signature in short order.
The Senate unanimously passed the act on Thursday, June 19, which follows unanimous passage by the House for the same named bill on July 30, 2007.
The legislation authorizes the United States Mint to issue:
300,000 silver $1 dollar coins from each of 9 designs, and
- 50,000 $50 one-ounce gold coins
The NASA commemoratives would be minted in "proof quality only." The proposed nine various designs for the silver coins add an extra level of intrigue to these commemoratives that is sure to peak interest.
The House (H.R. 2750) and Senate (S. 2159) bill versions are slightly different, and those differences will need to be resolved in committee before another full set of votes are taken and the legislation moves along to the President. However, the milestones appear to be mostly over and NASA anniversary coins should at least be issued in 2009.
NASA officially started on October 1, 1958. Leaping 50 years ahead would ideally place NASA commemoratives in public hands this year. The Senate’s lateness in passing the legislation makes that nearly impossible, however. One of the differences in the Senate bill is extending the times the coins may be minted and issued.
Also worth noting, these coins would not be "counted against" the annual 2 commemorative coin program minting and issuance limitation under section 5112(m)(1) of title 31, United States Code.
NASA Commemorative Coin Designs
Coin design clauses, which are more specific than contained in most coin legislation, include:
$50 Gold Coin Designs
(i) OBVERSE- The obverse of the $50 coins issued under this Act shall bear an image of the sun.
(ii) REVERSE- The reverse of the $50 coins issued under this Act shall bear a design emblematic of the sacrifice of the United States astronauts who lost their lives in the line of duty over the course of the space program.
$1 Silver Dollar Coin Designs
(i) OBVERSE- The obverse of the $1 coins issued under this Act shall bear 9 different designs, each of which shall consist of an image of 1 of the 9 planets of the solar system, including Earth.
(ii) REVERSE- The reverse of the $1 coins issued under this Act shall bear different designs, each of which shall be emblematic of the contributions of the research and space centers, subject to the following requirements:
(I) EARTH COIN- The reverse of the $1 coins issued under this Act which bear an image of the Earth on the obverse shall bear images emblematic of, and honoring, the discoveries and missions of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Mercury, Gemini, and Space Shuttle missions and other manned Earth-orbiting missions, and the Apollo missions to the Moon.
(II) JUPITER COIN- The reverse of the $1 coins issued under this Act which bear an image of the planet Jupiter on the obverse shall include a scientifically accurate depiction of the Galilean moon Europa and depict both a past and future mission to Europa.
(III) SATURN COIN- The reverse of the $1 coins issued under this Act which bear an image of the planet Saturn on the obverse shall include a scientifically accurate depiction of the moon Titan and depict both a past and a future mission to Titan.
(IV) PLUTO (AND OTHER DWARF PLANETS) COIN- The reverse of the $1 coins issued under this Act which bear an image of the planet Pluto on the obverse shall include a design that is emblematic of telescopic exploration of deep space by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the ongoing search for Earth-like planets orbiting other stars.
According to the Act, the silver $1 coins can be distributed separately but the $50 gold coin would only be sold as part of the compete set, containing the nine $1 silver commemorative coins.
Bronze duplicates of the $50 gold coins are authorized as well.
Each sale of a silver or gold coin, or the bronze medal would have surcharge of $10, $50 and $1 respectively. There are several target surcharge recipients outlined.