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  Space Cover 91: Unflown STS-8 Challenger Cover?

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 91: Unflown STS-8 Challenger Cover?
stevedd841
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Posts: 164
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 01-09-2011 06:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 91 (January 9, 2011)

Take a close look at this cover, serial number 276,136, and a few things may be missing, namely the launched aboard Challenger cancel and also the returned to Earth cancel, leaving only the KSC space mail cancel and orbited via STS-8 cancel for NASA's 25th anniversary and marking this cover as unflown in spite of the cancel on it. So, why is an unflown cover for STS-8 significant? Answer, there were extra STS-8 anniversary covers printed and serviced, but not all of them were flown and those that were incomplete or damaged were ordered destroyed by the USPS. This cover was unflown, but somehow missed the USPS destruction instructions.

This is how the completed and orbited flown cover for STS-8 Challenger, serial number 5,709, was supposed to look with the completed launch aboard Challenger cancel of August 30, 1983, and the returned to Earth Edwards AFB, CA cancel of September 5, 1983. So, does a low serial number guarantee that the STS-8 cover is flown? Answer, no, but it is probably a better probability for a space cover collector to have a low serial numbered Challenger cover to hedge one's bet.

Space Cover #91, Unflown USPS STS-8 Challenger Cover?

It was going to be a spectacular coup! NASA and the USPS were planning to offer flown STS-8 Challenger covers in a special folder to space cover collectors for NASA's 25th anniversary. The covers to be flown on Challenger on the STS-8 mission would have a KSC cancel for the first day of issue of the USA $9.35 express mail stamp, noting, "Space Mail, Orbited Via STS-8" and with a fancy star cancel, stating NASA 25th anniversary 1958-1983 canceling the high value $9.35 stamp. Added to the cover would also be a launched aboard Challenger cancel of August 30, 1983 and a returned to Earth Edwards AFB, CA cancel of September 5, 1983.

That was the NASA and USPS plan, but sometimes plans go awry. There was a limit imposed by the USPS to sell only one flown cover per person with sales beginning after the landing of Challenger at Edwards AFB, California, September 5, 1983. However, sales to individuals were not the determining factor for the covers as the quantity of flown covers was 259,377 covers from the Challenger's orbital flight. If a collector wanted one (or several) one could get them. By the middle of November, USPS staff had sold all of the prized flown covers for the flight, a total of 261,899, covers sold at $15.35 per folder with a STS-8 flown and orbited cover included in the special folder.

The flown cover with serial number 0 was sent to the National Postal Museum in Washington, DC. Covers with serial numbers 0-1,000 had been carried in the STS-8 crew compartment. The remaining covers of the 261,900 allotment had been flown in the STS cargo section in special containers that could be offloaded easily after the Challenger's flight. Some covers were damaged during handling and further processing after the flight. A subtotal of 2,532 damaged and mishandled covers were reported destroyed and the over produced number of covers that were not on the STS-8 flight were also ordered destroyed. However, please note this, cover serial numbers below 261,900 do not mean a cover was flown, nor does a serial number above 261,900 guarantee a cover was not flown, so "caveat emptor" in your purchase of these covers.

Special thanks is given to Robert Pearlman and Uzzi69 for discussing this interesting STS-8 flown cover subject earlier, June 24, 2002. The author does not hold the official list of flown and unflown cover serial numbers, but my cover serial number 276,136, and missing the other two cancels for completing the STS-8 Challenger's flight most assuredly appears to identify the cover as unflown, or ...does it?

Wishing everyone a (belated) bright and happy New Year as we continue our annual orbit around our above average yellow star 91 million miles away, the Sun! See ask.com concerning this. At perihelion, during winter in the Northern Hemisphere (a few days ago on January 3rd) we were at the minimum distance of 147 million km or 91 million miles away from the Sun. So, a belated Happy Perihelion day to you, too!

Steve Durst, VP, SU 4379

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-09-2011 06:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by stevedd841:
...most assuredly appears to identify the cover as unflown, or ...does it?
We know that there were flown covers with serial numbers higher than 261,900, so your serial number of 276,136 doesn't mean the cover wasn't flown.

I would think that it is just as plausible that your cover flew but accidentally missed getting the launch and landing cancels.

Did this cover come packaged with the same tri-fold folder as the others?

The way I heard it, none of the unflown covers came near the packaging process.

Apollo-Soyuz
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From: Shady Side, Md
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posted 01-09-2011 06:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo-Soyuz   Click Here to Email Apollo-Soyuz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steve, I have the list of the serial numbers of the unflown covers. Let me know if there is a particular number you are interested about. The unflown covers would not have received the launch and landing cancels on them but I have read that there were flown covers that did not receive the launch and landing cancels that were not on the unflown list.

stevedd841
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Posts: 164
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 01-09-2011 07:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Robert and John, Thanks for your quick responses back on this SCOTW item.

Robert, the cover was bought loose from a dealer at BALPEX a couple of years ago. It did not have a USPS folder nor was it in an original shipping envelope.

John, thanks for the notice that you have the list of serial numbers for the STS-8 Challenger flown covers with the Express Mail $9.35 eagle stamp. The serial number under discussion for the cover is 276,136. Would appreciate it very much if you could tell me yea or nay if it flew.

Many thanks, guys.

micropooz
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Posts: 1239
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 01-09-2011 07:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John, I'd love to see the list of unflown serial numbers, as would most collectors who have one of these covers. Is that something you can scan and post? Thanks!

Apollo-Soyuz
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Posts: 868
From: Shady Side, Md
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posted 01-10-2011 07:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo-Soyuz   Click Here to Email Apollo-Soyuz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steve- Your cover according to the list was flown.

stevedd841
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Posts: 164
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 01-11-2011 02:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi John, Wow! Now I really like this cover! Please include me on your list of folks to get the USPS list of flown serial numbered covers for the STS-8 Challenger flight cover. Many thanks for your research checking-out my cover, too.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-11-2011 02:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Has any unflown cover (based on serial number) ever been reported found?

DOX32
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Posts: 203
From: Fairfax, VA USA
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 01-11-2011 03:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DOX32   Click Here to Email DOX32     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John, share the unflown cover numbers with us? Curious?

cosmos-walter
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From: Salzburg, Austria
Registered: Jun 2003

posted 01-31-2011 06:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cosmos-walter   Click Here to Email cosmos-walter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steve, it is amazing. Again you found a great and unique cover. Congratulations! If it was mine, I would try to have it signed by STS-8 crew. Most likely William Thornton would sign it.

LM1
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From: New York, NY USA
Registered: Oct 2010

posted 02-23-2011 09:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM1   Click Here to Email LM1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is an STS-8 Challenger unflown cover list for sale on eBay (360347069101).

Apollo-Soyuz
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Posts: 868
From: Shady Side, Md
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posted 02-25-2011 06:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo-Soyuz   Click Here to Email Apollo-Soyuz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I plan to make a pdf file of the unflown cover list and will email it to all interested.

LM1
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From: New York, NY USA
Registered: Oct 2010

posted 02-25-2011 02:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM1   Click Here to Email LM1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Apollo-Soyuz:
I plan to make a pdf file of the unflown cover list and will email it to all interested.
When would you expect to complete this project, considering that there are over 250 pages to scan? How much would the PDF file cost? Would it also be available on a CD, because some computers may not be able to handle a PDF file that large?

Apollo-Soyuz
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posted 02-26-2011 04:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo-Soyuz   Click Here to Email Apollo-Soyuz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I will make a cd available for just cost of the blank cd and postage.

Ross
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Posts: 373
From: Australia
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 02-27-2011 05:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unless I'm missing something 250 pages seems extremely excessive to me. Sounds like every individual number is being listed! Wouldn't it be much more efficient to list ranges of cover numbers rather than individual numbers? Surely this would greatly reduce the size of the list.

Another thought. If you would like to make the list generally available, I could place it on the Space Unit website, especially in a more condensed form. Just a thought.

Dr Ross J Smith
(Space Unit Webmaster)

LM1
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Posts: 368
From: New York, NY USA
Registered: Oct 2010

posted 02-27-2011 07:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM1   Click Here to Email LM1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The USPS Listing of Unflown STS-8 Challenger Covers is 250 pages long because it lists the individual numbers of 235,533 unflown covers for this shuttle mission. This is how the list was distributed by the US Postal Service in July 1984. This is the Official list. The date on the list is 3/27/84. The STS-8 mission was in August through September 1983.

It is NOT possible to change or alter this list in any way. It would be impossible to re-type the list in another form. Each page lists 944 covers (16 columns of 59 numbers each). This is a very important list. It is used by collectors to confirm that their STS-8 covers were flown. If the number of their cover is NOT on the list, it WAS flown on STS-8. If someone were to try to prepare the list in another form, they would be taking the chance that they might make an error of some kind thus making the new listing invalid.

I do not think that the listing could be entered on the Space Unit Website in any clear manner. It would be 250 pages (plus cover letter from the USPS) of solid numbers. It is better to scan each page and make the listing available to collectors on a CD or in a PDF file. The advantage of this would be that collectors could zoom into the listing to make the print larger and easier to read. In my opinion, the listing should not be altered in any way.

Apollo-Soyuz
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Posts: 868
From: Shady Side, Md
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 02-27-2011 10:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo-Soyuz   Click Here to Email Apollo-Soyuz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I read the above posts in reference to the STS-8 unflown cover list. I agree with the post of LM1. I am going to convert it into a pdf as is. Those that can accept large PDF files I will email the list; those who cannot I will send cd for nominal fee or send the pdf link.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-27-2011 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John, should you agree, I will happily host the PDF on our server and put a download link in the Resources section of collectSPACE. That way, readers can obtain the document without your needing to field every request.

Apollo-Soyuz
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Posts: 868
From: Shady Side, Md
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 02-27-2011 10:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo-Soyuz   Click Here to Email Apollo-Soyuz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert- I will send you the pdf file when I get it and thank you for hosting it on collectSPACE.

stevedd841
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Posts: 164
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 02-27-2011 05:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Response for LM1, Do you have the cover letter from the USPS for the unflown STS-8 cover serial numbers file? I have a copy of the file serial number attachment only, pages 1 through 250. If you have the cover letter or preliminary pages for the file, could you scan them and send me a copy to include with the pdf file I am generating and which Robert has so kindly offered to host? Many thanks. Steve, email: rsdurst@gmail.com

LM1
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From: New York, NY USA
Registered: Oct 2010

posted 02-27-2011 07:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM1   Click Here to Email LM1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The cover USPS letter has been emailed to Steve.

DOX32
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Posts: 203
From: Fairfax, VA USA
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 02-28-2011 04:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DOX32   Click Here to Email DOX32     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks to everyone for doing this, as I have a number of these to verify if flown.

Please let us know when and where the list is posted.

DOX32
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Posts: 203
From: Fairfax, VA USA
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 03-04-2011 07:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DOX32   Click Here to Email DOX32     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I now have a list of unflown STS-8 covers. I have several and all of them were flown.

From a rarity stand point, does anyone have a STS-8 cover NOT flown, with the number listed in this report.

Evidently damaged and non-flown covers were destroyed!

Apollo-Soyuz
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Posts: 868
From: Shady Side, Md
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posted 04-15-2011 07:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo-Soyuz   Click Here to Email Apollo-Soyuz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is someone who is selling the CD of the list of unflown STS-8 covers on eBay. I am making this list available free to all when I get it back from the person who is converting it to a PDF. collectSPACE will put the link in the resources section.

p3.orion
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posted 04-18-2011 07:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p3.orion   Click Here to Email p3.orion     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Somebody more knowledgeable, check my logic here:

From the sound of it, most or all of the unflown covers were destroyed as planned. It seems that if you have a cover, it's either flown, making it valuable, or unflown but intact, which might make it even more valuable (certainly rarer.)

Does that sound about right?

Apollo-Soyuz
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posted 04-19-2011 05:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo-Soyuz   Click Here to Email Apollo-Soyuz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Your logic seems right to me.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-16-2011 01:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
I will happily host the PDF on our server and put a download link in the Resources section of collectSPACE.
Courtesy John Macco, the complete U.S. Postal Service listing of serial numbers of the 238,100 covers that were produced but not flown on the STS-8 space shuttle mission is now available for download (PDF, 148mb) under Resources.

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