George Goldey launch cover for Scatback the monkey flight, cancelled December 19, 1961, PM, Port Canaveral, Florida. This space monkey cover from 1961 is considered by many space cover collectors to be the rarest space monkey cover to find. Steve Durst, SU 4379
Space Cover #76: Scatback the Space Monkey, Rarest of the Space Monkey Covers?
The first American long-range ballistic missile, the Atlas ICBM, was developed by the U.S. Air Force in 1954. Originally an ICBM, the Atlas was later used as a launch vehicle for low orbit flights including the flights of Project Mercury.
The first Atlas A flight was launched on June 11, 1957, at Cape Canaveral, Florida. By 1959, 33,000 personnel were working on this national priority missile. The missile had a thrust of 360,000 pounds and quickly evolved through different rocket configurations including Atlas A, Atlas B, Atlas C, Atlas D (the first operational model), Atlas E, and Atlas F.
By 1966 after only a few years of service, it became obsolete with unused missiles being stored, later reworked, and eventually used as space launch vehicles. The last Atlas missile was flown in 1999, completing a span of forty-two years for use of the Atlas missile.
The one-hundredth Atlas missile to be launched, Atlas 32D, thundered away on November 10, 1961, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on a routine flight, but this one was a special flight with a one and a half pound squirrel monkey, Goliath, as its onboard passenger. With the missile failing to maintain its planned trajectory, the flight’s Range Safety Officer was forced to destroy the Atlas only 50 seconds after liftoff.
Five weeks later, Atlas 6E, was poised on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to launch a second monkey, a four pound rhesus monkey named Scatback. The flight's mission was designed to obtain information for a reentry from space more severe than an astronaut would safely be able to withstand. While the launch and mission went as planned, the capsule and its small monkeynaut, Scatback, were lost at sea, late in the evening, December 19, 1961.
Carl Swanson rubber-stamped cachet cover for Scatback the Space Monkey, machine cancelled 7:00 AM, December 20, 1961. Date is the morning after the previous day's late night flight from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
As shown above, there are space covers for the flight of Scatback in Atlas 6E cancelled on both December 19, 1961, and also on December 20, 1961. A Scatback monkey cover for either date is considered valid. Even with this latitude for the launch date, the Scatback the space monkey cover is missing from many space cover collections. Many experienced space cover collectors consider it the rarest of the space monkey covers to find. Yes, it is that rare!
Do you have a Scatback the space monkey cover?