Space Cover #74, The Space Age: Day One, October 4, 1957 Bob McLeod
As all of us space fans know, the first artificial satellite was Sputnik 1 and officially began the space age and also the start of the US-USSR space race. The sudden and spectacular success of Sputnik 1 clearly showed how far the US was behind the USSR in space. And the later dismal failure and humiliation of the US's first satellite launch attempt, Vanguard TV3, too clearly showed the world the US's space impotence.
Things would change, of course, but that small 183.9 pound, 23 inch diameter beeping orb, clearly showed the world the early and shocking superiority of the Soviet Union in space and, more sinister, rocket technology.
Most of us space cover collectors have, or can find, space covers for practically every space event, such as, Explorer 1, Freedom 7, Friendship 7, Apollo 8, Apollo 11, the Mars Viking landings, the first Space Shuttle launch, etc., but probably few if any have a cover canceled on the date that the space age began: October 4, 1957.
The Soviet Union didn't officially issue covers for Sputnik 1, and any Sputnik 1 covers found are anniversary covers or possibly some unofficial back-dated examples - and possibly even some fakes.
Ideally, any actual Sputnik 1 launch covers would be from the Soviet Union, such as Moscow or the area of the launch site, but since this was a world-wide event, in many collectors' opinions, any October 4, 1957-dated cover from anywhere in the world would suffice.
And such a cover has been found and is shown here. Found by a collector friend on eBay about 2 years ago, and bought for $2.00, is a rare October 4, 1957-dated cover. It's certainly not from a preferred site (the aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain, of MR-3 fame), but is certainly a significant cover to have, and it and any cover with the same date, could be called The First Space Cover.