The US Mint has just honored some of America's greatest astronauts with a new, very-hefty bronze medal. On Feb. 16, 2020, a limited number flew to space onboard an Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray balloon.
The 3-inch medals are bronze (90% copper, 10% zinc) duplicates of the New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Friendship 7's John Glenn and Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin at a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Building on November 16, 2011. One side highlights the faces of the astronauts. The reverse features the Lunar Module orbiting the Moon and the Friendship 7 mission capsule orbiting the earth with the inscription "WE CAME IN PEACE FOR ALL MANKIND."
Flying alongside an array of cosmic ray sensors, which the students use to monitor atmospheric radiation, the medals reached an altitude of 109,580 feet--deep inside the stratosphere. Following a 2.5 hour flight, the balloon exploded (as planned) and the payload parachuted back to Earth, landing in rugged hills overlooking Death Valley Wash on the north end of Death Valley National Park.
Each medal (90% copper, 10% zinc) comes with a greeting card showing the medal in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space and back again.