Space Cover #24, LOFT-1 Rocket Flown Cover Bob McLeod
On November 17, 1988, the E'PRIME Aerospace Corporation launched LOFT-1 (Launch Operations Flight Test-1), a ten foot tall, solid fuel sounding rocket from Launch Pad 47 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This modest space event was noteworthy mainly because it was the first rocket launch from Cape Canaveral by a private commercial company.
LOFT-1 was intended as a pathfinder mission, as E'PRIME had plans to launch much larger rockets in the future, with the main objective to gain part of the private commercial payload launch business.
But, unfortunately, LOFT-1 was both the first and last E'PRIME LOFT rocket launch, with LOFT-1's success leading no where in the commercial launch business.
Not much tangible remains of that launch 21 years ago except part of the payload onboard LOFT-1. A small part of LOFT-1's 30-pound payload were 52 specially prepared covers and one of which is displayed above.
These covers were stored in the rocket's nose cone and were boosted to 14,000 feet and were recovered 1.75 miles off shore. After recovery, the 52 flown covers (most still moist after water seeped into the payload compartment) were taken to the Cape Canaveral post office for launch-day cancels and then later signed by participants in the flight. Also, for additional documentation, the philatelic sponsor of the event signed and certified on the back of each cover that the covers were flown.
Many of the 52 flown covers were distributed to E'PRIME employees, with just a relatively few dispersed to general collectors. It would be expected that a collector looking for one of the LOFT-1 flown covers would probably have a difficult search.