Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) has inked a deal with astronaut Charlie Duke—one of only 12 people to have walked on the surface of the moon—who will individually autograph NGC’s certification labels.
In April 1972, as part of the Apollo 16 mission, Duke became the 10th man to walk on the moon. Then only 36 years old, he became the youngest person to ever step foot on the lunar surface—a record that stands to this day. He and fellow NASA astronaut John Young stayed on the surface for a record 71 hours. This was later eclipsed by the Apollo 17 mission, the sixth and final mission of the Apollo program, in December 1972. Altogether, Duke and Young spent 20 hours and 14 minutes outside the lander and logged 26.71 kilometres in their lunar rover.
“The addition of Charlie Duke to our signature program creates an out-of-this-world opportunity for collectors,” said NGC Vice-President Miles Standish. “It is an honour and inspiration to be able to work with one of the few men to have ever walked on the surface of the moon.”
The authentic, hand-signed Charlie Duke labels will be available from select retailers later this year.
CAPCOM FOR FIRST MOON LANDING
Three years prior to his own moon walk, Duke served as CAPCOM (capsule communicator) for Apollo 11—the first moon landing—in July 1969. As CAPCOM for Apollo 11, he was the voice at Mission Control in Houston, Texas, during the historic first landing on the moon on July 20 of that year. His excited voice is heard immediately after Neil Armstrong said the now-famous lines, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
One month later, Duke was selected as the backup lunar pilot for the harrowing Apollo 13 mission in April 1970, in which an on-board explosion forced the crew to circle the moon without landing. Days before liftoff, Duke caught rubella and inadvertently exposed the primary and backup crews to the virus. This caused NASA to ground Ken Mattingly, who had no immunity to the disease, and replace him with Jack Swigert as command module pilot.
Swigert became famous for reporting to Mission Control: “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”
Duke’s trip to the moon on Apollo 16 was the second-to-last of the NASA missions that included six moon landings from 1969-72. Only six of the 12 men who walked on the moon are still alive.
Duke, 81, was born Oct. 3, 1935, in Charlotte, N.C. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Duke was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force in 1957 and was a test pilot in 1966 when he was selected as a NASA astronaut. After entering the Air Force Reserve in December 1975, he eventually retired as a Brigadier General in 1986.
LEGENDARY LABEL SIGNERS
Duke joins NGC’s impressive list of label signers, including Montréal-born actor William Shatner; long-time editor of A Guide Book of United States Coins (also known as the “Red Book”) Kenneth Bressett; and 12th chief engraver of the U.S. Mint John M. Mercanti, who also designed the reverse of the American Silver Eagle.
For more information about NGC Authentic Hand-Signed Labels, visit NGCcoin.com/labels.