If you’re a serious fan of the United States space program and have your heart set on owning the 36-foot-long Apollo 11 flotation collar that was attached to the spacecraft’s command module by Navy swimmers helicoptered from the USS Hornet on July 24, 1969, a few days after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon, you're out of luck. That rubber, nylon webbing, and stainless steel piece of NASA history is part of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. On the other hand, if you're yearning for a simpler NASA souvenir, such as a U.S. flag that has actually been to the lunar surface, you can pick one of those up for the relatively modest sum of $15,000, which is not bad when you consider how much it would cost you to safely transport a small bit of red, white, and blue silk to the moon and back again.

More accessible are NASA collectibles such as autographed photographs of astronauts, mission artifacts such as medals, patches, and pins, scale models of vehicle models, commemorative coins, postage stamps, and magazines with covers documenting NASA’s numerous achievements, as well as its handful of tragedies.

Patches are especially colorful and easy-to-collect keepsakes. The main NASA patch, known since its introduction in 1959 by employees of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as the “meatball,” is a circular patch with a white border, white letters, and two red lines that come together at an ascending point (that device is meant to represent flight). An elliptical white circle in the center of the patch is meant to suggest a spacecraft orbiting the Earth, while other white elements against a field of blue are supposed to be stars. The meatball patch was redesigned in 1992 as a blue-bordered “vector” patch, in which the red lines extend beyond the edges of the circle at the lower left and upper right.

Mission patches chronicle flights of the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Space Shuttle programs, whose patches bear the initials STS for Space Transportation System. Although the first manned Mercury flight was Mercury 3 on May 5, 1961, with Alan Shepard, more than a dozen unmanned flights preceded it. One was even “piloted” by a chimpanzee named Ham, whose number “65” brass neck tag recently sold at auction for more than $12,000. As for the patch for Mercury 3, it was produced later (during the actual 15-minute, sub-orbital flight, Shepard wore only a meatball patch on his space suit).

One of the most storied Gemini patches was produced for Gordon Cooper and Pete Conrad of Gemini 5, which orbited the Earth 120 times over the course of its eight-day flight. The slogan on the patch, stitched into the side of a Conestoga wagon, was “8 Days or Bust,” but NASA officials were concerned that if the crew did not stay up that long, the mission would be deemed a failure. So, the patches worn by Cooper and Conrad had small bits of white cloth stitched over the slogan.

Of course, not all NASA collectibles are produced for the use of astronauts. Anchor-Hocking made Fire King coffee mugs with the red NASA “worm” logo on them, while the U.S. Postal Service has printed space-related stamps for anyone to use. Still, some of those stamps were produced to benefit astronauts. The most famous of these are the Apollo 11 insurance covers, which were signed by all three astronauts and left with their families in the event that they did not return from their mission (normal insurance companies would not give the men policies). Look for Apollo 11 insurance covers dated July 16, 1969 (the launch date), or July 20, 1969 (the day they landed on the moon).


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Air and Space Museum

National Air and Space Museum

The National Air and Space Museum holds some 50,000 artifacts, a significant subset of which can be viewed on this … [read review or visit site]

CollectSPACE

CollectSPACE

If space turns out to be the final collecting frontier, Robert Pearlman's site will be a good roadmap. Browse his c… [read review or visit site]

myArmoury.com

myArmoury.com

This resource for historic arms and armour collectors provides exhaustive information on modern reproductions (cust… [read review or visit site]

The Civil War

The Civil War

Paul McWhorter’s amazing reference site tells the story of the Civil War through high resolution scans of Harpers… [read review or visit site]

Mikes Tanks

Mikes Tanks

Mike Seeber’s extensive collection of over 500 diecast tanks and military vehicles, dating back to WWII. Browse b… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Tom Stafford - Nasa Apollo Astronaut - Authentic Autographed 8x10 Photograph!!!Vintage Lucite Acrylic Skylab Nasa Actual Oxygen Tank Fragment PaperweightSts- 93 Nasa Crew Photo, Signed By All 5 Astronauts-Herpa 1:500 Nasa Boeing 747sca With Space Shuttle "discovery" NgVintage General Electric Earth Survey Module 1/40 Scale Model Nasa Space StationLego Cuusoo Nasa Mars Rover NibK-line Die Cast Nasa Rocket Booster Flat Cars With Original Boxes No ReserveNasa Launch Complex 34 Complete Construction BlueprintsOriginal Nasa Apollo Lunar Module Lem Construction Overview Booklet From GrummanNasa Apollo 11 12 13 14 (4) Coin Proof-like Set 3t Oz .999 Fine Silver W/displayJohn Glenn Signed Official Nasa Glossy 10x8 Sts 95 Rare*mintMib 1982 Matchbox Superfast #54-e-2 Nasa Tracking Vehicle *(hard To Find Box) Victory Production 1/48 F-104 Usaf & Nasa Starfighters Rare Oop (vpd48005)Nasa Lunar Planning Charts Loc 1 - 4, First Editions 1971 *all Four*Hawk 1/48 Lockheed U-2 Nasa Reconnaissance Vintage Kit No. 209-200 Mint!!!Roundhouse Nasa Buzz Aldrin & Us Flag On Moon 50' Boxcar New In Box #1002Vintage Freedom 7 Capsule Plastic Bank Project Mercury Nasa Space Mission Us UsaSts-73 Crew-signed Nasa Color LithoJohn Glenn Signed Official Nasa Glossy 10x8 *rare* Mercury 7 *mint* In PersonRoundhouse Nasa Neal Armstrong One Great Leap 50' Boxcar New In Box #1001Tom Stafford - Nasa Apollo Astronaut Authentic Autograph 1975 Nasa Activities Nasa Space Voyagers Shuttle Rocket LotThomas Stafford Gemini Gemini Vi & Ix Apollo X Astronaut Nasa Nasa Space Shuttle Discovery Astronauts,signed Luncheon Menu,lloyds London5 Different Missions Nasa Patch Apollo 11 X11 Lunar Astronaut Space ProgramNasa Astronaut With Mmu 1:6 Revell 0607 [au15s11]Roundhouse Nasa Shuttle Discovery Landing 50' Boxcar New In Box #1004Sts-72 Crew-signed Nasa Color LithoFred Haise Apollo 13 Signed Vintage Official Nasa 8x10 * Rare Pic*Spacesuit Piece Nasa Apollo ProjectDragon Warbirds 1/400 56330 Nasa Edwards Afb Phantom Ray Boeing 747 W/x-45c LtdStory Musgrave Signed Official Nasa Litho 10x8- Full Name *tough*mintNasa Apollo Mission Pins In Memory Of Apollo 1Vintage Nasa Gemini Vi/vii Historic First Us Rendezvous Photo-"a Kodak Paper" Amazing Vintage Nasa Apollo 17 Lunar Surface/earth View Photo-"a Kodak Paper"Amazing Vintage Nasa Apollo 17 Lunar Surface/gene Cernan Photo-"a Kodak Paper"Very Uncommon Nasa/gsfc Earth Observing System Shuttle Era Iron On PatchVintage Nasa Final Skylab Flight Plan 1973Original Slide, Usaf/nasa North American X-15a-1, In 1960Tom Stafford - Nasa Apollo Astronaut Authentic Autographed 1972 Nasa News!!! Murmurs Of Earth Commemorative Edition Box Set(1992)book,photo Gallery,cds/nasaChallenger Vintage Nasa Model Shuttle Promo Desk Mount Wooden Free ShippingVery Uncommon Nasa/kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility Sew On PatchVintage Space Shuttle Hardhat €Apollo 8 Borman Lovell Anders Nasa Coin Metal Was Space Flown In Housew/card,etcVintage Nasa Gemini Vi/vii Historic First Us Rendezvous Photo-"a Kodak Paper" Vintage Japan Spaceship " Usa-nasa Apollo " 1960'sSpace Shuttle Challenger Nasa Wood Model Scale 1/100 Toys And Models CorpRussell Rusty Schweikart Astronaut Autograph Signed Nasa Litho Apollo 9 LmpJames Irwin Signed More Than Earthlings - Nasa Apollo 15 Astronaut Hc W/pamphletRare Vintage 11 X 14 Original Nasa Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Eva Photo-buzz AldrinVintage Nasa Grumman Apollo "lem" Lunar Excursion Module Tie Bar Or Tie ClipOrig 1967 Nos Nasa Space Program Sticker Critical Space Item Handle Care A++Kennedy "twinkling Nasa" Prog Rock Lp Nexus JapanLot Of 12 Nasa Space Emblems Patches Mint UnusedHo Bowser Nasa Hopper # 111 Model #55124 Sealed Vintage 1969 Apollo Xi Moon Plaque Moc Sealed Nixon Nasa Rare Armstrong AldrinHo Bowser Nasa Hopper # 113 Model #55124 Sealed Vintage Guillows Nasa Space Shuttle Columbia Balsa Wood Model KitVintage Nasa 11 X 14 Private Collection Documentation Award Apollo-soyuz 1975