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  Space Cover 149: Glenn Fever!

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 149: Glenn Fever!

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

posted 02-19-2012 03:09 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 149 (February, 20, 2012)

An Atlas missile postcard has a startling message for its recipient in Branford, Missouri, and mailed by Eva and Hank in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Their message says, "Just saw Glenn go up, something we will never forget," postmarked on February 20, 1962, the date of John Glenn's launch into space and orbit in Friendship 7 and Mercury Atlas-6 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Cocoa Beach was a favorite place for visitors in the area to watch missile launches at the nearby missile base.
Astronaut John Glenn blasts-off at 9:47 EST, February 20, 1962, from launch complex-14, into a clear blue sky at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Five minutes and twenty seconds later, he earns his astronaut badge (astronaut wings) in becoming America's first astronaut to orbit the Earth.
After his 3 orbit and 4 hour and 55 minute spaceflight in Friendship 7, John Glenn is recovered by U.S. Navy destroyer USS Noa, DD-841, seventeen minutes after splashing down near Grand Turk Island in the Bahamas. The USS Noa primary recovery ship cover pictured is believed to be one of the best examples of PRS USS Noa covers with PM in the ship's hand cancel making it a very rare cover. These covers are among the most difficult covers for a collector to find concerning Glenn's recovery.

Space Cover #149, Glenn Fever!

"That view is tremendous!" exclaims astronaut John Glenn looking backwards at Cape Canaveral, Florida, as Mercury Atlas-6 thunders-away from launch complex-14, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, and rapidly accelerating into space and Earth orbit early in the morning of February 20, 1962. In his spacecraft, Friendship 7, astronaut Glenn, America's first astronaut to orbit the Earth, is awestruck, "Can see clear back, a big cloud pattern way back across toward the Cape. Beautiful sight!" The United States is in space with astronaut John Glenn in his spacecraft Friendship 7.

John Glenn's planned spaceflight in Friendship 7 had ambitious objectives to accomplish. Glenn's flight would evaluate the performance of the Mercury Atlas astronaut-spacecraft system during his three-orbit mission. His flight also would ascertain the effects of orbital space flight on an astronaut. Most importantly, Glenn's flight would provide an astronaut's evaluation of the operational suitability of the spacecraft and supporting systems for manned space flight. His flight would also validate NASA's approach to validate the U.S. space program in the eyes of the world, no small feat in itself. The morning of February 20, 1962 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, an estimated 100 million people watch Glenn's spectacular launch in spacecraft Friendship 7 on Mercury Atlas-6, via live television coverage of his launch at Cape Canaveral.

It had been very difficult to get to this point. Previous attempts by NASA engineers to launch had resulted in mission scrubs on January 23, January 27, January 30, and then, February 12, February 14, February 15, February 16, and February 18, 1962. With excellent weather on February 20, 1962, at 9:47 am EST, John Glenn in Friendship 7 blasts-off in rocket Mercury Atlas-6, at launch complex-14, en route to orbit. As he thunders-away from Cape Canaveral, Glenn, also a distinguished military test pilot, yells above the roar of the Mercury Atlas-6 main rocket engines, "All spacecraft systems 'Go'!"

In orbit passing over Australia and observing his first sunrise from space, Glenn has a very unusual comment, "I'll try to describe what I'm in here. I am in a big mass of some very small particles that are brilliantly lit up like they're luminescent. I never saw anything like it. They're round, a little. They're coming by the capsule, and they look like little stars. A whole shower of them coming by. They swirl around the capsule and go in front of the window and they're all brilliantly lighted!" John Glenn's report of "space fireflies" captures the World's imagination and brings a human perspective to his orbital spaceflight in Friendship 7.

Four hours and twenty-one minutes into his flight and completing his final orbit, Glenn is told to check his landing bag deployment light. His spacecraft indicates to ground that the landing bag has already deployed. If this is true, Glenn will not survive his fiery reentry back through the atmosphere. CapCom Wally Schirra tells him to leave his retropack on until he passes Texas, without explanation. Approaching Florida, Cape CapCom Alan Shepard tells Glenn he will be landing with his retropack on. Shepard's last recommendation is not heard as Glenn plunges back through the Earth's atmosphere, flying Friendship 7 by wire. Glenn watches stunned and in silence as a huge flaming part of the capsule's retropack and its metal securing straps burn away and fly by his capsule window.

The remaining pieces of the retropack burn away and g-force start to build on Glenn. He knows what this is like from his earlier astronaut centrifuge training. As g-force drives him back into his flight seat, he has difficulty actually moving his flight controls and cannot dampen-out the spacecraft's rocking motion by firing the spacecraft's yaw and roll rocket thrusters. Everything is happening too quickly to control things. As Glenn's fiery reentry slowly subsides, he thinks he is through his reentry fireball with 7 g's holding him back in his flight seat. Finally, he hears Alan Shepard on radio say, "Seven, how do you read me, over? Relieved and having regained radio contact with the CapCom, he knows he is out of the ionosphere and passing through the Earth's lower atmosphere at approximately 100,000 feet altitude.

Shepard tells him, "Your impact point is within one mile of the up-range destroyer," in the landing area. Glenn knows that he is plummeting towards the Atlantic Ocean in a one and a half ton non-aerodynamic spacecraft at 1,000 feet per second. Another problem! Either his parachute will deploy or it will not deploy! With the spacecraft rocking back and forth more than anticipated, Glenn thinks part of his retropack somehow must still be attached causing this unexplained rocking and unstable condition of the spacecraft. He can't wait any longer, and he reaches up to manually deploy his parachute, but he can't do it. He's too late.

The automatic deployment system for the parachute has already deployed the initial drogue parachute and then behind it, the main parachute. Glenn again is thrown back into his flight seat and sees out the window that the sky is a beautiful clear blue, and it appears to be a bright sunny day near Grand Turk Island near his anticipated splashdown point. He fixedly stares at his console, too. On the console, the landing bag light is green, and there is nothing wrong with his spacecraft's landing bag. There also is nothing wrong with his capsule's heat shield. The recovery destroyer USS Noa has seen his splashdown into the Atlantic and is on its way to recover him and his spacecraft. Glenn says further to Shepard, "...that was a real fireball, boy!" It is a very rough splashdown as Friendship 7 smacks down into the ocean. John Glenn waits inside his capsule in three foot swells of the Atlantic for USS Noa to arrive at Friendship 7's splashdown position. Glenn sees it is a beautiful day in the Atlantic Ocean near Grand Turk Island, only 300 miles from where he had launched that morning. The recovery ship is 17 minutes away, but John Glenn knows that he has done it. Glenn's mission in Friendship 7 is a tremendous success!

Upon confirmation of Glenn's successful recovery by USS Noa near Grand Turk Island, the U.S. Post Office releases a surprise Project Mercury stamp that was designed and produced in secret by post office employees on the weekends and late at night in Washington, D.C. in the run-up to Glenn's epic spaceflight. Above is shown a Fleetwood first day cover with the newly released Project Mercury stamp, cancelled February 20, 1962, PM, the date of Glenn's recovery. Had Glenn not survived his mission, the Project Mercury stamp would not have been issued.

Steve Durst, SU 4379


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

posted 02-19-2012 07:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great covers Steve! Especially the "Just saw Glenn go up" card from Cocoa Beach! That card had to have felt the vibes from the launch...


Posts: 373
From: Australia
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 02-20-2012 07:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While there were lots of cachets for the FDCs I particularly like the following hand painted version which is also a little different in showing the recovery.

While the USS Noa was the actual recovery ship, the USS Randolph was the designated Primary Recovery Ship. In addition, Glenn and his Mercury capsule were transferred from the Noa to the Randolph after recovery. Below is a very desirable Captain's Cover from the Randolph. The browning on the add-on label is common on these covers and is due to the glue used.


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

posted 02-20-2012 06:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dennis and Ross, many thanks for your comments.

Dennis, the postcard shown is one I bought for a dollar walking out of the Perryville postcard show we occasionally would go to. I literally was skunked at the show finding very little and thought it was worth a chance to look through a dollar box on the way out of the show.

In regards to your comment, it is a remarkable postcard from two observers of Glenn's epic launch on his mission date, February 20, 1962,and also is a favorite postcard of mine.

Ross, yes, I agree that the glue used for the USS Randolph label cachets was not the best and has not stood up over time. Most are like this and even worse, you are absolutely right!

Ken Havekotte

Posts: 1823
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 02-20-2012 07:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steve, what a find! As an avid space postcard collector, I love your Atlas ICBM card that was actually posted from Cocoa Beach, FL, on the actual day of America's first orbital space feat, 50 years ago today!

And to top it off, the written sentiment on it, "Just saw Glenn go up, something we will never forget," is a classic in itself.

What a wonderful find, Steve, as this is the first space-related postcard I have seen with a Cocoa Beach cancellation on the day Glenn put our nation into orbit!

In my own space picture postcard collection, with hundreds and hundreds of different cards mainly produced by Koppel, Cape News Co., and CK, most of mine are in mint or unused condition.

Even though to others it may only be a used/mailed postcard, to me, it represents an unusual and "on the scene" historical piece of astrophilately that never may be seen again.


Posts: 94
From: Douglasville, Ga U.S.A.
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 02-21-2012 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bobslittlebro   Click Here to Email bobslittlebro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steve, really great items! I like the Glenn postcard from Cocoa Beach. I try to find the same kind in my search at stamp shows. The USS Noa recovery cover is great. I need one in my collection.

Ross, the hand painted Mercury FDC is really a fine one. My USS Randolph PRS is one of the lucky ones that the sticker cachet has not turned brown.


Posts: 961
Registered: Aug 2002

posted 02-21-2012 10:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MarylandSpace   Click Here to Email MarylandSpace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I enjoy collecting astronaut autographs on the Mercury FDC if I don't have a mission cover of the astronaut's mission.

...and I do have one autographed by Col. Glenn. It is one of my favorite, all-time autographs.


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

posted 02-22-2012 06:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ken, Tim, and Garry, many thanks for your comments concerning this John Glenn posting celebrating the 50th anniversary of his manned orbital spaceflight in his thundering into space and orbit in Friendship 7. Surprising as it may seem, you can still find incredible covers for Glenn's mission.

I found this cover below about three years ago. It would probably not catch many collectors' attention, however upon a closer look, the cover is canceled Feb. 20, 1962, at Grand Turk Island, where Glenn was brought ashore after his flight.

Great Glenn mission covers can still be found.

Eddie Bizub

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

posted 02-22-2012 07:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Eddie Bizub   Click Here to Email Eddie Bizub     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steve, Joe Frasketti produced this cover. He was stationed at Grand Turk at the time. Somewhere I have pictures that he sent my dad of Glenn arriving on the island and some of the festivities that were held for him.

Joe Frasketi

Posts: 182
From: Florida USA
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 02-24-2012 04:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joe Frasketi   Click Here to Email Joe Frasketi     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Glad to see one of my Glenn/Project Mercury Grand Turk covers appear here.

You can read the article I wrote about this cover and John Glenn coming to Grand Turk Island 20 February 1962, by going to this page.

Also you can see a group photo of Glenn, Vice President Johnson and various people who worked at Grand Turk, (myself included) in this article.

I also prepared Project Mercury FDCs with the Cape Canaveral cancel with the same cachet as on the Grand Turk cover shown above.

Joe Frasketi, (with just one T)
(Eddie, I had forgotten all about those photos I sent to you dad so many years ago.)


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

posted 02-26-2012 03:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The period photo pictured shows Vice President Lyndon Johnson with flown astronaut John Glenn on Grand Turk Island along with the tracking station team and other dignitaries, the day of Glenn's recovery. Photo is provided by Joe Frasketi (one "T" Frasketi) the guy kneeling in the corner of the photo. Many thanks, Joe!

Eddie and Joe, thank you for your additional comments on my SCOTW, and Joe, thanks for ID'ing the tracking station cover you made and had autographed by Glenn when he was transferred ashore after his historic orbital spaceflight. Your input to this continuing story is a great addition.

Joe Frasketi

Posts: 182
From: Florida USA
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 05-17-2012 04:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joe Frasketi   Click Here to Email Joe Frasketi     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In reference to Ross's entry of Feb. 20, 2012 above, showing the USS Randolph cover, (the the designated Primary Recovery Ship) that has autographs of John Glenn and the ships captain, I would like to mention the cover in my collection. While it has these two autographs mentioned it has an additional autograph. I've always tried to obtain other autographs of people connected with the flight who might have a part in the mission who usually don't get much publicity.

Aboard the USS Randolph was A.E. Hansen, of Los Angeles CA who was a representative of the world authority for the certification of all aviation and space records, the Federation Aeronautique International. Hansen received from Glenn the document which verified his flight for the F.A.I. records. Hansen signed my cover "Earl Hansen, NAA". I am assuming the NAA stands for National Aviation Authority. This cover is on an album page along with a picture of Hansen receiving the document from Glenn. Glenn established four national records on Feb. 20, 1962.

I've also included a scan of the picture of Earl Hanson looking at the document he received from John Glenn:


Posts: 55
From: WV, USA
Registered: Sep 2006

posted 05-17-2012 09:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astrobock     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steve, of course we want to see it! Thanks.

Joe Frasketi

Posts: 182
From: Florida USA
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 05-19-2012 10:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joe Frasketi   Click Here to Email Joe Frasketi     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
See my entry above, I added the cover scan to my original entry of 17 May '12 (just making this note so that it will appear that a new/revised entry was made).


Posts: 262
From: Texas * Earth
Registered: Apr 2011

posted 05-22-2012 08:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That Glenn postcard mailed from Cocoa Beach is a rare find in great condition with a clear postmark. Am guessing that this was sent to a family member as it was common practice back in the day to carefully affix the stamp upside down to signify "sent with love."

Regarding Joe's recovery ship cover and Mr Hanson's notation; usually during that time period the N.A.A. referred to North America Aviation. Along with being a rep for the F.A.I. his day job may have been with North American?


Posts: 2103
From: Stuart, Florida, USA
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 05-22-2012 08:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's actually the National Aeronautic Association, the FAI would use reps from them as observers for records.

All times are CT (US)

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