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  Space Cover 74: The Space Age: Day One

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 74: The Space Age: Day One
Bob M

Posts: 1367
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 09-12-2010 09:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 74 (September 12, 2010)

Space Cover #74, The Space Age: Day One, October 4, 1957

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.

Bob McLeod
SU #1449


Posts: 164
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 09-14-2010 08:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I heartily agree with Bob that finding covers with an October 4, 1957 date commemorating the launch of Sputnik and the Space Age is a difficult task indeed. A favorite cover of mine predates this for a V-2 rocket test conducted October 3, 1942 at Peenemünde, Germany.

Postcard from Peenemünde mailed on the date of the first successful V-2 rocket test by Lt. General Walter Dornberger and his Technical Director, Wernher von Braun, October 3, 1942. The purple VKN briefstemple postal marking on the postcard is from the rocket test group responsible for conducting the test.

Later that evening in his speech at the rocket base's Kameradschafthaus (Officers' Club), Dornberger stated, "We have invaded space with our rocket for the first time--mark this well--have used space as a bridge between two points on Earth; we have proved rocket propulsion practicable for space travel. To land, sea, and air may now be added infinite empty space as an area of future transportation, that of space travel." This early V-2 rocket test and the later event for the launching of Sputnik seem commonplace and even routine today, but they were incredible achievements in their day, opening the Space Age.

Steve Durst SU 4379

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