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  Space Cover 127: Palestine, TX Balloon Cover

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 127: Palestine, TX Balloon Cover
micropooz
Member

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

posted 09-18-2011 07:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 127 (September 18, 2011)

Space Cover #127: Palestine, TX Balloon Covers

Well, I was kind of struggling with what to write about for this SCOTW, and hit my trade box for ideas. There I came up came with a Palestine, TX (the folks in TX call their town "Pal-est-een") balloon flight cover. This one is postmarked May 2, 1973 for a study of high altitude radiation with a professor from the University of Maryland. NASA, even today, launches a lot of low-cost near-space scientific studies on balloons that get virtually no attention from the press, or lately, the philatelic servicers.

However, back in the 1960's and '70's, some cover servicer was very diligent about documenting these flights launched from Palestine. I don't collect these covers, and I am no expert, but did have this one in my trade box. I have seen other examples of these from the early 1960's to the late 1970's, and with several different cachet types. And have heard rumblings through the grapevine that there are around 400 differently dated Palestine balloon flight covers out there! These are available for anywhere from a buck to quite a bit more today.

Maybe our august group can offer some counseling to the folks who wonder about these covers? So, does anyone know what the story is on these? Cachet maker? Other cachet types? Cachet types vs. flight dates? A list of cover/flight dates? Any help appreciated...

yeknom-ecaps
Member

Posts: 458
From: Northville MI USA
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 09-18-2011 09:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yeknom-ecaps   Click Here to Email yeknom-ecaps     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good topic!

Scientific ballooning under the National Science Foundation was established in 1961 with three launch sites considered - Hope, Arkansas was the initial choice, but was turned down by the FAA due to an unacceptably high air traffic density. Crockett, Texas and Palestine, Texas were next with Palestine being the final selection.

Launches began in mid-1962 with the first launch from Palestine taking place on July 20, 1962. There were covers created for this first flight by servicer Bob Boudwin. The first launch from the "official" launch pad took place on December 12, 1962 with the launch of Stratoscope II. With this flight George Goldey began creating covers for the Palestine balloon flights.

Many of the flights were for the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Though there were over 70 flights per year it seems like only seven to ten had covers created for them. Regular servicing stopped in the mid 1960s with last one I know of from Boudwin/Goldey being in 1966 with sporatic covers produced after that until a new servicer came onto the scene in 1970.

In late 1970 Ruth Ward from Palestine began servicing covers for the majority of flights from Palestine including getting a few missions where covers were flown on board the balloon. Several of the flights were also related to the space shuttle development. She used two or three basic cachet designs (like the one Pooz shows) with specific mission information added. The last Ward cover I have is for a flight on December 2, 1977.

Here are covers for the first and second flights from Palestine and also a Goldcraft cover for the December 12, 1962 Stratoscope flight.

There is no complete listing of Palestine covers that I know of - though many are listed in Jack McMahan's space cover catalog.

Due to safety concerns the majority of flights now originate from Fort Sumner, New Mexico. After almost four years of not performing balloon launches at Palestine, a stratospheric flight took place last April to loft a payload developed by the Louisiana University at Lafayette which consisted of a small lightweight and robust probe to gather atmospheric and cosmic ray measurements. The flight lasted nearly three hours.

Though actual flights are now minimal, many flights - such as those launched in Antarctica - are controlled from Palestine's facilities.

A great web site about scientific ballooning's history through current flight campaigns is by Stratocat. The Stratocat site lists flights by launch location from around the world.

Ross
Member

Posts: 373
From: Australia
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 09-19-2011 11:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As mentioned above, scientific balloon flights occurred in many countries. Many flights occurred during the 1960s to 1980s in Australia with the major launches occurring from Mildura in Victoria, Alice Springs in the Northern Territory and Longreach in Queensland. During the late 1960s and early 1970s Jack Kock produced covers for a number of these launches. One such cover is shown below. While Mildura operated between 1960 and 1981 launching approximately 600 payloads, to this day Mildura is considered a perfect site for hot air ballooning and a major Hot Air Balloon Festival is held there every two or three years.

micropooz
Member

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

posted 09-19-2011 06:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks to both Yeknom and Ross for moving this dialog along!

Yeknom - dang, that 1962 first flight cover looks familiar! Did we do a trade for that??

And Ross, in one of my previous professional lives, I was a participant in a design review for the (then) upcoming Ultra-Long-Duration-Balloon (ULDB) in 1998, and it was going to launch from Alice Springs! I lost track of the ULDB that finally flew, and it may have launched from elsewhere, but I have good memories of the Alice Springs folks! Top notch!

Plus there are some good wines coming from Alice Springs now... although not really a cS comment here...lol.

Let's keep the dialog going on this long-overlooked part of space exploration, gang! What else do you know?

yeknom-ecaps
Member

Posts: 458
From: Northville MI USA
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 09-20-2011 04:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yeknom-ecaps   Click Here to Email yeknom-ecaps     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Pooz - what a memory! You are correct on the trade...

NASA related ballooning related sites:

  • Wallops Flight Facility - Wallops Island, VA - home of the Balloon Program Office
  • Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (named Columbia after the STS-107 tragedy) -
  • Palestine, TX - launch site (summer) and control center for other launch sites
  • Launch site - Fort Sumner, NM (fall)
  • Launch site - McMurdo, Antarctica (winter)
  • Launch site - Alice Springs, Australia (spring)
  • Launch site - Kiruna, Sweden (spring)

Ross
Member

Posts: 373
From: Australia
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 09-21-2011 10:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just because Tom mentioned it, here's a cover from Alice Springs. Enjoy.

Eddie Bizub
Member

Posts: 32
From: Kissimmee, FL USA
Registered: Aug 2010

posted 09-25-2011 03:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Eddie Bizub   Click Here to Email Eddie Bizub     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great topic guys! My dad collected everything he possibly could from about 1966-1974. He has about 200 of these balloon covers from Palestine. I asked him about them and all he remembers is that the cover servicer was a woman and she charged 2 cents per cover. The covers are great and the cachets are quite extensive with the payload information. Too bad these never receive much interest. I'm sure their collective history is quite interesting!

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