Australia celebrates space history on world’s 1st coin minted in 2024 (Image Credit: Space.com)
The world’s first coin to be struck in 2024 highlights Australian space exploration history.
“Out of this World – Australia in Space” was chosen by the Royal Australian Mint as its 2024 theme “to showcase Australia’s history and significance as one of the earliest nations to launch its own satellite.”
The coin’s reverse, or tails side, depicts an Australian astronaut on a spacewalk and the launch of WRESAT-1 on a modified U.S. Redstone rocket in 1967. The satellite, which carried upper atmospheric radiation measurement experiments, established Australia as the seventh nation to put a satellite into orbit and the third country to launch from its own territory, after the Soviet Union and United States.
The coin’s design also includes Earth, with the Australian continent clearly visible, and the moon, the latter an homage to the country’s role in relaying the live television signal during Apollo 11, the first moon landing, and to an Australian-built robotic rover that will explore the lunar surface as part of NASA’s Artemis program.
Though not stated by the mint, the astronaut could be a nod to Andrew Thomas, the first Australia-born career astronaut to fly into space and who performed a spacewalk on his third of four spaceflights with NASA. The depiction could also be a reference to Paul Scully Powers, the first Aussie to launch into space, but as an oceanographer flying as a payload specialist on a U.S. space shuttle.
Along the border of the coin’s reverse are inscribed the words, “rovers, technology, rockets, astronauts, satellites, communications, GPS, astronomy, exploration and discovery.”
The mint worked with the Australian Space Agency to design the coin.
“Space is critical to our everyday lives, as well as solving some of the greatest challenges we face — and the agency is ensuring Australia plays its part. Space is also a global effort, and the agency supports Australian organizations by working with partners like NASA, the European Space Agency, Japan’s JAXA and more,” reads the folder that comes with the 2024 coin.
The 1-inch (25 millimeterS) aluminum bromide coin weighs 0.3 ounces (9 grams) and has the legal tender of one dollar. Though it is a collectible, it is not a limited edition.
The uncirculated coin is also the first commemorative to feature the effigy of King Charles III on its obverse, or heads side.
In celebration of the new year and new coin, the Royal Australian Mint held a drawing for the right to strike the first coin. Izzy Zaharis, a 12-year-old girl from Wollongong, was the winner. She and 99 others who gathered in Canberra were able to press their own coin to take home, complete with a certificate of authentication from the mint.
Monday’s (Jan. 1) release was only for the gallery press coin. Additional finishes will be released in early February, including a $10 gold proof, a $1 silver proof and an uncirculated four-coin set.