Apollo 15 Miniature LRV License Plates
Artifacts flown to lunar orbit are rare. Those carried in the lunar module to the moon's surface are rarer still. Artifacts carried out onto the lunar surface during the EVAs are perhaps the ultimate space collectible, and these miniature licence plates, carried on Apollo 15, the fourth moon landing, and the first mission to use the lunar rover for extended scientific exploration of the moon, are some of the few ever to have come onto the collector's market.
These miniature license plates were manufactured by Boeing (makers of the Lunar Roving Vehicle itself) especially for Apollo 15 commander Dave Scott as a memento of the first lunar rover.
Scott beside the lunar rover
One of the miniature license plates carried by Scott
The miniature plates were made of lightweight aluminum and measure just 1¼" x ½" (32mmx20mm) in size. They are marked with the registration number "LRV 001", with "MOON" as the home state, the year 1971, and the NASA and Boeing logos.
The plates were prepackaged in a pack smaller than a pack of gum, which was stowed in the left knee pocket of Scott's space suit before the launch and remained there until after his return to Earth. They were in space for 12 days 7 hours from the launch on July 26 to the splashdown on August 7 1971. More importantly, they spent nearly 67 hours on the moon (from July 30 to Aug 2 1971), including 18h 30m of EVAs, and were carried on LRV itself for around 17 miles (27.9km) across the lunar surface.
FLOWN availability -
Dave Scott has stated that he does not know how many license plates were in the pack. Kim Poor of Novaspace,
who was the first to offer them for sale on Scott's behalf, thought there were around 20 in total.
Victoria Campbell of Aurora Galleries, who took over sale of the plates a few years later, thought there were around 12.
It is estimated that around sixteen examples have been sold from primary sources to-date.
'Full-size' replica license plates
Although no examples are known to have been flown as souvenirs, it's also worth mentioning the 'full-size' replica LRV001 license plates produced by Boeing at the time of the Apollo 15 mission.
These aluminum plates measure 7¾ x 4¾" (195 x 200mm) and are marked along the bottom "Replica of the Apollo 15 license plate for the first manned lunar roving vehicle". They were likely produced in limited numbers and distrubuted by Boeing as commemorative or promotional items to NASA and Boeing VIPs and key workers on the project.
Examples sold in recent years have sold for upwards of $150 at auction.
Annex: Miniature LRV001 license plates sold at auction or identified in private or museum collections
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