The coin, which commemorates the 200th birthday and the life and work of Louis Braille, will liftoff aboard space shuttle Atlantis on the STS-125 mission to service NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the NFB, said the bicentennial silver dollar "symbolizes the power of knowledge and future opportunities for blind children across America," and that it was fitting for it to "be part of a mission to uncover the secrets of the universe."
Dr. Joyce Winterton, the Assistant Administrator for NASA Education, who was present at the Braille dollar release ceremony, reaffirmed Maurer’s comments, and added:
"NASA believes strongly in the importance of educational opportunities for everyone. That is why we have partnered with the National Federation of the Blind to help create programs that enhance scientific study for blind youth. Launching the first coin to contain tactile, readable Braille into space symbolizes NASA’s commitment to the spread of knowledge by every means and to every individual."
Three other coins — the Alabama state quarter and 1995 and 1996 Paralympic Silver Dollars — also had Braille, but were too small for the visually impaired to read.
Demand for Braille commemorative coins has been strong. The latest US Mint silver coin sales show a total of 145,308 of the available 400,000 have been sold since their release in late March.
NFB has been active in promoting Braille dollars to the public, to include a commercial explaining how they benefit the blind. A $10 surcharges from the sale of each coin is paid to NFB to further its programs to promote Braille literacy.
The commemorative coins may be ordered on the following US Mint pages:
The US Mint also accepts orders at 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468). Hearing- and speech-impaired customers may order by calling 1-888-321-MINT (6468).
Once launched, the Braille commemorative coin will join the ranks of the gold Sacagawea Space Dollars, which blasted off in 1999 on NASA Mission STS-93 to carry the Chandra X-ray Observatory – one of NASA’s four Great Observatories, like the Hubble Telescope.
In that instance, the US Mint struck proof, 22-karate Sacagawea coins for the journey to help promote the Sacagawea golden dollar release into circulation.
Details for which Louis Braille dollar — the proof or uncirculated version — will get sent on mission STS-125 has yet to be provided.