National Space Day is May 6. The holiday is dedicated to the achievements and history of the U.S. space program.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a budget of $18.5 billion, and astronauts earn between $64,724 and $141,715 annually, according to Celebrity Net Worth, a celebrity finance outlet. But the most famous astronauts achieve international celebrity status that transcends any paycheck.
Here is a look at the most famous and richest astronauts, their careers and net worths.
John Glenn Net Worth: $5 Million
Astronaut John Glenn has a net worth of $5 million. On Feb. 20, 1962 he grew to international fame as the first human being to orbit Earth as the pilot of the Mercury-Atlas 6 “Friendship 7” spacecraft.
As a fighter pilot, Glenn flew 59 combat missions in World War II and 63 combat missions in the Korean War — service that earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross on six occasions, as well as an Air Medal with 18 clusters. In 1957, he broke the transcontinental speed record when he flew an F8U Crusader from Los Angeles to New York in 3 hours and 23 minutes.
Glenn served as a United States senator and, in 1998 at the age of 77, returned to space for an STS-95 Discovery mission.
Neil Armstrong Net Worth: $8 Million
On July 21, 1969, a captivated world watched as the 38-year-old American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human being to set foot on the moon. Upon walking on the moon as part of the legendary Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong delivered one of the most famous quotes in history: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Neil Armstrong, who died in 2012 at the age of 82, had a net worth of $8 million.
Buzz Aldrin Net Worth: $10 Million
As the pilot of the Apollo 11 lunar module, Buzz Aldrin holds the distinction of being the second man to walk on the moon. Aldrin has a net worth of $10 million and was a jet fighter pilot in the Korean War. His first words on the moon were, “Beautiful view. Magnificent desolation.”
Buzz Aldrin spent 20 hours on the moon with Neil Armstrong. He went on to write two books: “Return to Earth” and “Men from Earth.”
Jim Lovell Net Worth: $2 Million
Known for being the commander of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, Jim Lovell had a net worth of $2 million. He is one of just two dozen people who have flown to the moon, and the only person to have flown to the moon twice without landing. The movie “Apollo 13” was based on Jim Lovell’s book “Lost Moon.”
Scott Kelly Net Worth: $500,000
On March 1, 2016, Scott Kelly returned to Earth from the International Space Station, where he and a Russian cosmonaut spent 340 days in space. Scott Kelly’s net worth is $500,000.
While in space, Kelly grew by two inches as his spine elongated. He has since shrunk back to his regular size. He and his identical twin brother Mark Kelly — a former astronaut himself — have agreed to participate in a twin study that will benefit a planned 2030 Mars journey.
Chris Hadfield Net Worth: Unknown
While Chris Hadfield will forever be known as the first Canadian to float freely in space, the former astronaut has a slew of other distinctions. He was one of just four Canadians selected from a group of 5,330 applicants to become an astronaut, and he once intercepted a Soviet “Bear” aircraft while flying a CF-18 for the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD).
While aboard the ISS, Hadfield recorded a cover of “Space Oddity” in tribute to the late David Bowie. Because of his extraordinary space-to-Earth social media presence, Forbes called him “perhaps the most famous spaceman since Neil Armstrong” in 2013.
Some of the most celebrated heroes in America, astronauts take incredible risks, achieve remarkable feats and capture imaginations. Some of the most famous astronauts parlay their success into considerable wealth. Although it’s not an occupation people choose for the money, some astronauts will celebrate Space Day as very wealthy Earthlings.