Friday, October 26, 2012

9 3/4 thinking: astronaut life insurance.

Occasionally I hear of ideas that are both brilliant and unlikely, manifestations of what could be labeled 9 & 3/4 thinking--if one were trying to co-opt said thinking for a blog entitled 9 & 3/4, that is.

As the Apollo 11 astronauts prepared for their historic moon voyage, they realized odds were pretty good they wouldn't come back. So how to care for families they might leave behind forever? Unfortunately, life insurance for likely-to-die astronauts is astronomical.

But Neil Armstrong and crew were crafty in that 9 & 3/4 way, as explained on NPR:

Neil Armstrong had something going for him. He was famous, as was the whole Apollo 11 crew. People really wanted their autographs

"These astronauts had been signing autographs since the day they were announced as astronauts, and they knew even though eBay didn't exist back then, that there was a market for such things," Pearlman said. "There was demand.

Especially for what were called covers -– envelopes signed by astronauts and postmarked on important dates.

About a month before Apollo 11 was set to launch, the three astronauts entered quarantine. And, during free moments in the following weeks, each of the astronauts signed hundreds of covers.

They gave them to a friend. And on important days — the day of the launch, the day the astronauts landed on the moon — their friend got them to the post office and got them postmarked, and then distributed them to the astronauts' families.

It was life insurance in the form of autographs.