Today in history... Nixon sets the Space Shuttle program in motion

Nixon is remembered by most for one event: Watergate. His time in office is remembered by space enthusiasts primarily for Mankind's giant leap - all 12 men to have landed on the moon did so on his watch.

That of course included the first moon landing, Apollo 11, in 1969. There is a famous photograph of Nixon chatting to the astronauts whilst they were in quarantine after their triumphant success.

However, it has recently come to light that Nixon had a speech prepared in the event of disaster - specifically that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would fail to blast back off the moon to re-join Command Pilot Michael Collins, and that he would have to return alone.

Michael Collins's flight suit, believed to be the one he wore whilst in quarantine after returning from that moon mission, is currently available for sale, as are individual signed photos of all three astronauts (including Neil Armstrong, who no longer signs for anyone).

Whilst less glamourous than the Apollo missions, the space shuttle program has nevertheless generated some desirable collectibles. At Bonhams' space sale in the summer, shuttle materials often beat their estimates, for example the Rockwell-General Dynamics Space Shuttles Model sold for $19,520, having been estimated as low as $7,000.

Even a flown space shuttle tile sold for nearly $10,000 in November.

Nixon is better remembered for the Watergate scandal however, which forced him to resign in 1974, and face the threat of impeachment. His successor, President Gerald Ford controversially granted him a pardon for any crimes committed whilst he was in office.

A limited number of souvenir copies of the Nixon/Ford Pardon were released, and an example of this remarkable piece of American history is currently available.


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