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  Space Cover 190: Astronaut Flown Covers

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 190: Astronaut Flown Covers
Bob M
Member

Posts: 1367
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 12-01-2012 07:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 190 (December 2, 2012)

Space Cover #190: Astronaut Flown Covers

Official NASA policy prohibits private material being carried or flown on NASA events, but through the years collector material has nevertheless been involved in NASA events, tests and flights. Of course, the premier example are the infamous covers flown to the moon on Apollo 15 for a German stamp dealer, but many other covers have been flown or carried for space enthusiasts with no monetary motives. Besides covers flown on the USAF's X-2, the USAF/NASA X-15, NASA Lifting Body aircraft (all these shown in our weekly series earlier), other covers are known to have been flown, carried or located contrary to NASA policy.

This week I've chosen several NASA Astronaut flown covers, some flown on military aircraft by NASA Astronaut Candidates prior to their reporting to NASA, and others on NASA aircraft on training flights. Shown here are covers flown on both Gulfstream II Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA-1 and -2), several T-38's, an F-15A Eagle and an FA-18A Hornet.

Above, the top cover commemorates the delivery of the STA-1 Gulfstream II aircraft from Calverton, NY to JSC/Houston. The middle cover was flown on that flight by David Griggs, who was the Chief of STA Operations at JSC and later became one of the 35 Group 8 NASA Astronauts. The bottom cover was flown by Griggs on STA-2's 100th flight.

This cover was sent to Dan Brandenstein at Whidbey Island NAS, WA, soon after being selected as an astronaut, but was flown later on a NASA T-38 after reporting to JSC. The letter from Brandenstein was in response to me advising him of NASA's policy against flying collector material.

The top cover was flown on a T-38A at Edwards AFB, CA, ay Group 8 astronaut Steve Nagel. The bottom cover was flown aboard an F-15A Eagle also at Edwards by Group 8 Astronaut Loren Shriver.

The top cover was flown on a T-38 at Ellington AFB, TX, at Mach .9 by Group 9 NASA Astronaut Roy Bridges, with a notation that this was his First Space Flight Readiness Training Flight. The middle cover was flown on an F-18A Hornet at Patuxent River NAS, MD, by Group 12 NASA Astronaut Andy Allen. The bottom cover was flown at Mach 1.2 by Group 12 astronaut Bill Readdy at Ellington and noted that it was "...a gorgeous day for a flight!"

Ken Havekotte
Member

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

posted 12-05-2012 12:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great topic with astronaut flown covers as I know we both share many similar-type covers done throughout the 1970/80s.

I've always enjoyed working on projects like this that help to "expand the envelope" so-to-speak as you never knew what kind of response might result. Some
were truly outstanding, as you can see, from several of your depicted covers here.
Nice work!

There are others, of course, flown by astronauts earlier. In my own collection there are flown/carried covers by Shepard, Glenn, Conrad, Cernan, Irwin, Schmitt, Evans, Lousma, Carr, Gibson, and many more from the first NASA astronaut generations of space fliers.

spaceman1953
Member

Posts: 933
From: South Bend, IN United States of America
Registered: Apr 2002

posted 12-06-2012 12:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I did not know that NASA put a ban on such activities. I have done non-space carried activities like Ken says above and gotten some spectacular results due to a lot of other peoples' kindness.

One mistake I made years ago, however, was I found one astronaut who was more than kind and helpful and that just led me to ask for more such favors. That was a reall bad idea, even for a stupid 15 year old newspaper boy! I was set straight really quickly!

Bob M
Member

Posts: 1367
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 12-06-2012 02:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Certainly at least since the Apollo 15 flown cover fiasco, it's been against NASA policy to have private, collector material involved in NASA events, tests, and on their vehicles. But that hasn't stopped many collectors from trying and obviously with some positive results.

Besides covers flown on NASA aircraft, like the STA and T-38 flown covers above, covers are known to have been on launch pads (inside the Mobile Launcher Platforms) for Shuttle launches, inside Mission Control at JSC, carried in the Crawler Transporters on Shuttle rollouts, etc.

Because of NASA policy, these signed and documented covers shouldn't be shown publicly but have to spend their days residing quietly in collections.

And, Ken, to add to your very impressive group of astronaut carried/flown covers, I can add covers carried on Shuttle simulators by Hank Hartsfield and Gordon Fullerton.

cosmos-walter
Member

Posts: 406
From: Salzburg, Austria
Registered: Jun 2003

posted 12-08-2012 02:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cosmos-walter   Click Here to Email cosmos-walter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On 29.06.1995 Space Shuttle Atlantis docked first time to Mir space station. Anatoli Soloviyov and Nikolai Budarin flew with Atlantis to Mir. Vladimir Deshurov and Gennady Strekalov returned to earth with Atlantis. These cosmonauts transported covers and a few letters with Shuttle. Dezhurov and Strekalov had no other chance to take anything back to earth. Similarly covers and letters were transported with following Space Shuttle missions to Mir as well as with Space Shuttles transferring cosmonauts into ISS and back to earth. Also without Russian cosmonauts on board Space Shuttles delivered letters from family and friends to cosmonauts at ISS or back. Sometimes Peggy Whitson confiscated letters cosmonauts sent to earth. However, letters sent to earth with STS-134 were returned to cosmonaut federal months after the last Shuttle flight.

Bob M
Member

Posts: 1367
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 01-15-2013 04:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's another astronaut flown cover, with this one flown in a T-38 aircraft at Edwards AFB by Hank Hartsfield on a flight to simulate ALT flight profiles.

(Hank, if you happen to see this, thanks for being such a great friend to us bothersome collectors for so many years and for your great service to our country).

spaceman1953
Member

Posts: 933
From: South Bend, IN United States of America
Registered: Apr 2002

posted 01-15-2013 11:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ditto, that, about the kindness of one Hank Hartsfield. (I often write out stuff here and then re-think it before I "submit reply",) so I will leave it at that. Truly a class act of a gentleman whenever "you" would run into him in person!

onesmallstep
Member

Posts: 508
From: Staten Island, New York USA
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 01-16-2013 04:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ditto from me, too. Col. Hartsfield was the first astronaut I ever met, in 1979 at, appropriately, a stamp show. A more gracious and affable 'ambassador' for the hobby could not be found. It was the year I became a space philatelist and my collection has grown steadily ever since.

micropooz
Member

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

posted 01-16-2013 08:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Both Hank Hartsfield and the late Karl Henize learned astrophilately from Jack McMahan in Houston, before it became a dirty word with the Apollo 15 cover scandal. Both Hank and Karl have been (or in Karl's case, were) always gracious to come speak to our Space Unit meetings.

In fact in 1991, after speaking to our Space Unit meeting in Houston, Karl came to our after-meeting trade session, cracked open a beer, and traded some of his hand-drawn ASSESS (a SpaceLab ground test) covers for STS-51-F covers that he didn't yet have in his personal collection.

I don't believe that something like that can ever happen again...

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