A silver Snoopy lapel pin is the award given to NASA employees and contractors that have contributed to human flight safety as well as mission success.
It is provided by the NASA astronauts themselves to show their appreciation for the excellent work in making missions successful and keeping the astronauts safe. It is an extraordinary honor, and only less than 1% of workers receive it annually. According to the rules, an individual can receive only one during their lifetime, but some people have received more than one. Fifteen thousand people have received the pin since 1968.
The award was created after the Mercury and Gemini projects that had helped NASA to promote awareness among the employees and contractors, considering their impact on the missions. The unique feature of this pin is that it has traveled on a space shuttle mission and has Snoopy depicted on the pin, wearing a spacesuit. Officials wanted an award because they used a character that was well-recognized.
Charles M. Schulz, the creator of Snoopy and the Peanuts comics, was an active supporter of the NASA space program. Not only that he let NASA use the image of Snoopy in the pin design, but he also gave them Snoopy the Astronaut at no cost. He drew the image himself and created all the posters that were used for the promotion of the award as well.
The first Silver Snoopy awards were given to four crew members of the LTA-8 project, which tested the Lunar Module in a vacuum chamber. Information about other recipients of the Award is still being added to the site. NASA has an online database, but it is incomplete and missing some of the information from the pre-shuttle days. The manifests for some space flight records show that collections of Snoopy pins were taken along, but, in most of them, there is no public record of pins being taken up into space.
The Snoopy pins are highly valued by collectors and are exceedingly rare. It is very hard to find one with all the valuable documentation. There is no way of knowing on which flight a Snoopy pin might have flown, as the astronaut presenting the pin is simply the one who was active at the time the award was; not necessarily the one who flew with the pin. Some pins do not match their documentation, and this may be due to NASA’s policy of sending a replacement for a lost pin. Pins from the shuttle era differentiate from those of the time of Apollo.
Experts have found nearly 40 variants of the Snoopy pin; this is most likely due to the small number that was made at one time and the changes in the design.
The changes were made in the placement of the text and the hallmark’s location on the back– the front has never altered over time.