A milestone for both the coin and space communities was achieved when two programs, the International Space Station and the United Future World Currency, were linked together by the actions of Paolo Nespoli, an Italian astronaut with the European Space Agency aboard the Soyuz TMA-20 docked with the International Space Station.
In the wake of NASA’s final mission, Flight Engineer Nespoli brought along a silver prototype coin minted by the Italian State Mint for the UFWC. The silver specimen was given to Nespoli by UFWC founder Dr. Sandro Sassoli shortly before his lift-off as a good luck charm.
The piece accompanied him for the 159-day mission he spent as a resident of the International Space Station from December 2010 to May 2011.
“The aim of the International Space Station and of UFWC are actually one and the same, to link all countries and people of the world with the motto ‘Unity in diversity,’” said Sassoli. “I am so enthusiastic of this achievement.”
The UFWC was set up in 1996 at the initiative of Sassoli, who has been the driving force behind the project for more than 15 years. He began the initiative after a meeting and consultation with Arthur Schlesinger Jr., former counselor to former U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
The UFWC was originally begun with the patenting of the trademark “Eurodollar” by Sassoli before the formation of the European Union’s single currency, the euro, in 1997, according to UFWC. Currently, the initiative is working to have their currency acknowledged as legal-tender.
The 17-gram silver prototype that made the long journey to the space station features the legend, “Unity in Diversity” as well as UFWC’s own “Tree of Life” design on its reverse.
According to the UFWC, the 2009-dated first issue coins are eagerly sought by coin collectors, despite their lack of legal-tender status. This is due to the publicity surrounding their initial launch, when Russian President Dimitry Medvedev’s endorsed the UFWC initiative in front of the world’s media, it says. Further prototype coins have since been produced in several world mints including the Royal Mint in the U.K., the Italian State Mint and the Casa De Moneda in Mexico with several other projects planned for the remainder of 2011 and well into 2015 for the World Expo 2015, Milano.
Meanwhile, Nespoli has had quite a following regarding his experience aboard the International Space Station with his Tweets and photographs. He can be found at “astro_paolo” on Twitter.