Space Cover #79, Official Kniga Cover Flown on Space Station Mir
This week's Space Cover of the Week was flown on the Mir orbital manned space station and is one of 1,000 such covers comprizing the first officially authorized commercial mail to be sent into outer space.
This cover (showing both front and back), number 0767 of 1,000, was launched on November 21,1987 aboard the Progress-33 unmanned cargo spacecraft to the Soviet space station Mir. The cover remained onboard Mir for the duration of the Soyuz TM-3 crew's stay on Mir and landed with them on December 29, 1987.
The 10 Kopec USSR postage stamp, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik 1, was canceled on October 4, 1987 at the Moscow General Post Office. The stamp also was canceled from the Baikonur post office on November 21, 1987, commemorating the launching of the Progress-33 cargo spacecraft with the 1,000 covers on board.
A special blue "MIR" commemorative rubber stamp cachet/cancel was applied in space by the crew and both Soyuz TM-3 cosmonauts, Yuri Romanenko and Alexander Alexandrov, signed this and all 1,000 flown covers while aboard Mir. The handsome cachet pictures Mir in an early stage of its assembly.
Then, on December 29, 1987, a special postal cancellation was applied in Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, marking the safe landing of the Soyuz TM-3 spacecraft with the covers aboard.
To document these covers as being flown, the chairman of the USSR Glavkosmos, A. I. Dunaev, signed each of the covers on the back, and A. Ya. Belostotsky, of Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga, signed and provided a Certificate of Authenticity, as well as providing information sheet about the covers and their history.
Covers flown on Mir, and also on the ISS, are not hard to find and covers flown by most, if not all, of the Mir and ISS cosmonaut crews exist. These covers are typically signed by the crew members and have cancels and rubber stamp markings applied signifying that they were flown in space. Many can be obtained without high cost, but fakes abound.