Space Cover #63, Marshall Space Flight Center Skylab and ASTP rubber stamp cachets
With the launch of the unmanned Skylab space station, a new rubber stamp cachet appeared for the first time on covers returned from the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). Covers previously sent to this facility during Apollo had all been returned without any cachets in addition to the postmark.
The primary mission of MSFC was the development of the Saturn family of launch vehicles used in the Apollo manned lunar landing program. It was because of this relationship with the Saturn rockets that covers were sent to MSFC for processing on launch dates for commemorative cancellations.
The Public Affairs Officer Amos Crisp said "we [MSFC] wrote into the plan the servicing of collector's covers for each of the Skylab launches." Mr. Crisp advised that for the last two missions, one solar panel was cut away to better reflect the configuration of the actual space station. Based on this information, the four Skylab rubber stamp cachets were created by the MSFC Graphics Department, on MSFC time and with MSFC funding. Therefore they met the criteria of being "official" cachets just like the KSC Officials.
The format of the MSFC cachet for the ASTP launch resembles the Skylab cachets. The format of the MSFC cachet on ASTP landing covers and bears little resemblance to its glamorous Skylab and ASTP launch counterparts. It is unquestionably an official MSFC rubber stamp, it was applied by the MSFC PAO people on outgoing mail items and its use on the ASTP landing cover arguably identifies it as an official MSFC for the ASTP landing.
The use of the little MSFC RSC on ASTP landing covers leads one to surmise that the MSFC PAO crew simply did not have sufficient time to design and produce a more elaborate cachet similar to that used on the ASTP launch cover. If such assumed circumstances were true, the little MSFC RSC was most probably pressed into "emergency" service to avoid disappointing those collectors who had submitted covers for the MSFC landing cancel and cachet.