08/30/2012 05:56 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

Neil Armstrong's Life Insurance Came In The Form Of Autographs

Paying for life’s necessities can be tough, but if you’re a famous astronaut you might have a few more options than most.

Before Neil Armstrong went to the moon in 1969, he took some precautionary measures to make sure his family would be taken care of in case he didn’t come back. Instead of taking out a life insurance policy -- which was prohibitively expensive for someone going to the moon -- Armstrong and his fellow Apollo 11 astronauts signed a stack of "covers," or envelopes marked with important dates, that were given to their families and could be sold in case they died, NPR reports.

Unfortunately, having difficulty affording life insurance isn’t a problem limited to Armstrong, his career choice or the time period. Forty percent of Americans lack life insurance and nearly 50 million people don’t have enough of it, according to a J.D. Power and Associates survey from earlier this year.

In 1969, when Armstrong was preparing for his voyage, a life insurance policy could cost tens of thousands of dollars, according to Business Insider. At that time, astronauts were only taking home about $17,000 per year.

With the astronauts' fame skyrocketing in the lead-up to the launch “there was demand” for their autographs, space historian Robert Pearlman told NPR, making the memorabilia potentially profitable.

That demand hasn’t dissipated; an autographed photo of Armstrong in his white spacesuit typically goes for about $5,000 at auction, according to the Houston Chronicle. With Armstrong’s passing earlier this month, auction organizers expect the autographed photos to fetch at least 30 percent more.

(Hat tip: Business Insider.)



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