Apollo 17 space vehicle is launched from Kennedy Space Center. (photo right) Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, Apollo 17 mission commander, makes a short checkout of the Lunar Roving Vehicle. photo credit: NASA


Apollo 17 space vehicle is launched from Kennedy Space Center. (photo right) Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, Apollo 17 mission commander, makes a short checkout of the Lunar Roving Vehicle. photo credit: NASA


APOLLO 17: Flown $2 Bill

Launch Date: December 7, 1972 | Splashdown Date: December 19, 1972


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About the Provenance

This bill was acquired directly from the personal space collection of Captain Eugene A. Cernan in 2010, who documented in both paper and on film the history of this bill, it's flight status, and its intense personal meaning to him. The bill itself is signed by Gene, and notated as having been flown on Gemini 9A, Apollo 10, and to the lunar surface on Apollo 17. Its condition is a product of the fact that his father carried it in his wallet for many years as a good luck talisman before Gene took it with on all three of his space flights. The condition issues, rather than detracting from the bill, add to its collective historic experience and remain enduring, symbolic signs of its tremendous travels as well as intense personal meaning to Captain Cernan.

About the Bill

This series 1953 bill, with serial number A10241591A, was first taken into orbit by Gene Cernan on Gemini 9A as a favor to his father, who made the habit of carrying this bill with him in his wallet for good luck. Gene’s father died in January of 1967, before he could return the bill to him. In memory and in tribute to his father, Gene later flew the bill into lunar orbit on Apollo 10, coming within just 8.4 miles of landing on the lunar surface. He also took it with him on the historic Apollo 17 mission, the last lunar landing of the Apollo program – and the bill made its way to the lunar surface, traveling with Gene and Harrison Schmitt in the spacecraft Challenger to the Taurus Littrow Valley. It is the only such bill flown on each of these flights, and the only known bill of any denomination flown on three separate space missions. It is one of the few, extremely rare space artifacts in private hands to have achieved low Earth orbit, lunar orbit, and to have landed on the lunar surface. Additionally, the bill was exposed to the vacuum of space twice – once during the EVA of Gemini 9A in low Earth orbit, and again during the trans-Earth EVA of Ron Evans during the return trip of Apollo 17 shortly after leaving lunar orbit. Apollo 17 was also the only night-launch of an Apollo flight. Finally, the Apollo 10 mission holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for the fastest speed attained by a manned vehicle at 24,791 miles per hour – making this bill the only such bill to ever experience such a high rate of speed. As such, it is the rarest and most significant space flown bill of any denomination in existence. 

Captain Eugene A. Cernan signs the formal letter of flight certification, attesting the $2 bills history and 3x flight status. The signing took place in his study in Texas in August, 2010 -- after 44 years in his possession.

Captain Eugene A. Cernan signs the formal letter of flight certification, attesting the $2 bills history and 3x flight status. The signing took place in his study in Texas in August, 2010 -- after 44 years in his possession.

Captain Cernan with the bill and flight certification letter, August, 2010.

Captain Cernan with the bill and flight certification letter, August, 2010.

Captain Cernan salutes the American flag while on the lunar surface in 1972 during the last Apollo landing mission. Behind him is the lunar module Challenger, which houses inside of it the flown $2 bill. Behind the flag is the Lunar Rover Vehicle, or "moon buggy," the tracks of which can be seen directly in the foreground in the ancient lunar dust. Since there is no atmosphere on the moon, those track marks are still up on the moon, as they were, over 40+ years ago.

Captain Cernan salutes the American flag while on the lunar surface in 1972 during the last Apollo landing mission. Behind him is the lunar module Challenger, which houses inside of it the flown $2 bill. Behind the flag is the Lunar Rover Vehicle, or "moon buggy," the tracks of which can be seen directly in the foreground in the ancient lunar dust. Since there is no atmosphere on the moon, those track marks are still up on the moon, as they were, over 40+ years ago.

The dramatic and beautiful launch of Apollo 17 on humanity's last Apollo moon mission. It was also the first and only night time launch of the Apollo program.

The dramatic and beautiful launch of Apollo 17 on humanity's last Apollo moon mission. It was also the first and only night time launch of the Apollo program.

In 2010, astronaut Gene Cernan -- the last man to walk on the moon -- discusses in detail the $2 bill that he took with on all three of his spaceflights in honor of the memory of his father, who always carried it for good luck. This bill flew on Gemini 9, to lunar orbit on Apollo 10, and on to the surface of the moon during Apollo 17.