Space

Here’s how much Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin earned for their moonwalk on the Apollo 11 Mission

How much money did Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin earn for their moonwalk on the Apollo 11 mission? Did they get a bonus or just their regular salary?

Apollo 11 (Jul. 16–24, 1969) was the American spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on Jul. 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC, and Armstrong became the first person to step onto the Moon’s surface six hours and 39 minutes later, on Jul. 21 at 02:56 UTC. Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later, and they spent about two and a quarter hour together exploring the site they had named Tranquility Base upon landing. Armstrong and Aldrin collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material to bring back to Earth as pilot Michael Collins flew the Command Module Columbia in lunar orbit, and were on the Moon’s surface for 21 hours, 36 minutes before lifting off to rejoin Columbia.

‘The Apollo 11 crew were one of the more flight-experienced crews of the Apollo program; crews typically included at least one rookie, but Apollo 11 were all veterans,’ Andy Burns, Student of Space History and Flight Officer / Aviator at United States Navy (USN), says on Quora.

The Apollo 11 lunar landing mission crew, pictured from left to right, Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot.

‘Neil Armstrong commanded Gemini 8, and greatly impressed NASA management with how he handled a serious in-flight emergency on his flight. He also performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space on the same mission. That was in addition to many years’ experience as a test pilot for the X-15 rocket plane.

‘In November 1966, “Buzz” Aldrin and command pilot James Lovell were launched into space on the Gemini 12 spacecraft on a four-day flight, which brought the Gemini programme to a close. Aldrin established a new record for extravehicular activity (EVA), spending over five hours outside the spacecraft. He was considered an expert on orbital rendezvous – he earned a PhD from MIT with a thesis on the subject.

‘Michael Collins was one of the third group of astronauts named by NASA in October 1963. As pilot on the three-day Gemini 10 mission in 1966, Collins shared with command pilot John Young in the accomplishments of that record-setting flight (which involved rendezvousing with a dormant Agena target vehicle/booster), including setting an altitude record and making a spacewalk.’

How much money did Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin earn for their moonwalk on the Apollo 11 mission? Did they get a bonus or just their regular salary?

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin salutes the deployed United States flag during an Apollo 11 Extravehicular Activity (EVA) on the lunar surface. The Lunar Module (LM) is on the left, and the footprints of the astronauts are clearly visible in the soil of the Moon. Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong took this picture with a 70mm Hasselblad lunar surface camera.

‘I’m always interested by how often this question comes up,’ Andy Burns continues. ‘As if the Apollo astronauts were just some contractors hired off the street to go to the Moon. They were all US government employees, before and after their mission.

‘Neil Armstrong was a civilian, a civil servant Federal government employee working for NASA, as he had been since 1955. He joined NASA after leaving the Navy – he had been a fighter pilot in the Korean War – and became a test pilot for the Agency, flying the X-15 rocket plane. As a fairly senior civil servant, he made about $27,000 annually, roughly $190,000 in current dollars.

‘Collins and Aldrin were both active duty lieutenant colonels in the US Air Force, and made the equivalent of about $140,000 a year in current dollars.’

Burns concludes;

‘They did file travel claims once they got back to Houston, for $33.31 in per diem.’

Photo credit: NASA and Andy Burns via Quora

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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