Saturn V moon rocket art revealed for 2024 American Innovation $1 coin (Image Credit: Space.com)
The United States Mint is getting ready to put a rocket in your pocket.
As first announced in 2022, the state of Alabama chose NASA’s historic Saturn V to appear on a $1 coin as its example of American Innovation. With the dollar piece now nearing its Spring 2024 release, the mint has revealed the final design for the moon rocket-adorned coin.
“The American Innovation $1 Coin representing Alabama recognizes the invention of the Saturn V rocket,” reads the mint’s website. “The Saturn V rocket was developed to support the Apollo space program for human exploration to the moon. NASA launched 13 Saturn V rockets between 1967 and 1973.”
Though the Saturn V flew from Florida, it is associated with Alabama, given it was designed and partially built at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.
The reverse, or tails-side, design of Alabama’s American Innovation dollar coin captures the power and force of the 36-story-tall Saturn V by showing the rocket lifting off as a large full moon fills the background.
The design is nearly identical to the concept created by Justin Kunz, a member of the mint’s Artistic Infusion Program. Kunz’ proposal was favored both by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and the members of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), a panel that advises the Secretary of the Treasury, from a choice of 11 candidate designs.
The CCAC recommended adding the inscription “Saturn V,” which was adopted in the final sculpt by medallic artist Phebe Hemphill.
The Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), which also reviewed the proposals, preferred a different depiction of the Saturn V, though they noted that they liked the billowing plume from the rocket’s five F-1 engines as depicted by Kunz.
Ultimately, the decision was made by Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen.
The obverse, or heads-side, design, which is common to all of the coins in the American Innovation series, features a representation of the Statue of Liberty in profile. Created by medallic artist Craig Campbell, the obverse also includes a privy mark of a stylized gear, representing industry and innovation.
The Saturn V dollar will be the 23rd coin in the American Innovation series to be released since 2018 and the second in 2024. It will be preceded by Illinois’ entry celebrating the steel plow and followed by a coin depicting the life-saving direct current defibrillator, which was invented by cardiologist Bernard Lown of Maine.
Alabama’s coin is the third in the program to feature a space or astronomy theme. The first, issued for Delaware in 2019, honored astronomer Annie Jump Cannon, who invented a system for classifying stars that is still in use today. A year later, the mint released Maryland’s coin celebrating the Hubble Space Telescope.
A fourth possible space design was submitted by New York with its inclusion of the Apollo Lunar Module among other suggested themes for its 2021 coin. The CFA and CCAC, though, passed on the moon lander and recommended art featuring the Erie Canal instead.
The American Innovation golden dollar coins are legal tender but are not released directly into circulation. Like the others, Alabama’s Saturn V coin will be offered directly from the mint in rolls and bags and later in proof and reverse proof sets.