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104. Space Reimbursement

04 May

Michael Collins, Joker and Astronaut

A travel voucher is a simple form, fill it in before you go on a business trip and it allows you to get money back on the ‘wasted time’ spent actually traveling.

Michael Collin was an astronaut, and a joker. Before shooting off into space in the Gemini 10 rocket he submitted a travel voucher. This entitled him to $8 for every day in space. Unfortunately for his get-rich-quick scheme the Gemini 10 Rocket only stayed in orbit for three days, netting him a paltry $24.

In his autobiography Mr Collins does note that he could have claimed on an alternate option, 7 cents per mile traveled. If he had done this he would have earned himself a neat $80,000. So why didn’t he?

The trick was that, the trick had been done before. One previous astronaut had tried this little game on a trip in one of the Mercury Rockets. NASA let him have his $80,000 but also sent him a bill for “a couple of million dollars” for the rocket he used. That astronaut decided, wisely, to return his money, and NASA kept the bill for the rocket.

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