When Pan Am Accepted Reservations For the Moon

One evening in the early 1960s, Art Chimes went into the backyard of his Livingston, NJ, home and looked up. He was hoping to catch a glimpse of an early U.S. communications satellite called Echo, and he did. The satellite — basically a large balloon — zipped across the darkness, a moving object against a field of fixed stars. In 1969, Art made a reservation for a trip to the moon with Pan Am. Pretty soon, other would-be passengers began approaching the airline. Although Pan Am told people they had no plans at that time to offer a flight to the moon, the airline offered take their name and add it to the list of people that expected a flight to depart about the year 2000. By 1968, that list had grown to about 180 people, but after the success of Apollo 8, that number nearly doubled. Despite the accomplishments of its early years, Pan Am went bankrupt in 1991. At that time, a whopping 93,000 people had signed up for Pan Am’s commercial spaceflight to the moon. Art never got into space, but he did receive a form letter from Pan Am that read: “Starting date of service is not yet known. Equipment and route will, probably, be subject to government approval. Fares are not fully resolved, and may be out of this world.” Using the Civil Aeronautics Board’s fare formula, a first-class ticket to the moon would have cost somewhere around $3,732,160…….round trip, of course.