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The United States Postal Service (USPS) and NASA planned to fly 500,000 covers on the Space Shuttle during the STS-8 mission. All covers were to be identical and were serially numbered on the reverse of the cover.

Covers numbered 0 through 1,000, which were carried in the crew cabin, were retained by the USPS for official display and presentation purposes. The cover numbered 0 had a cylinder die proof of the $9.35 Express Mail stamp and is now on display at the National Postal Museum in Washington, DC.

Some covers within the 0 to 261,899 serial numbers range were not flown. In addition, some covers with serial numbers higher than 261,900 were flown. That said, of the 500,000 produced, only 261,900 were flown.

During the flight, 2,523 covers were damaged. Those damaged, along with the unflown covers were destroyed.

The covers were presented in a commemorative folder for $15.35 each with a one per person limit. The sale began shortly after the landing of STS-8. The one per person limit was lifted on October 5, 1983. The USPS reported selling out of the covers in the middle of November 1983.

There was a misconception that these covers were of limited quantities. In total, 259,377 flown covers exist.

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