Space News
space history and artifacts articles

Messages
space history discussion forums

Sightings
worldwide astronaut appearances

Resources
selected space history documents

Websites
related space history websites

  collectSPACE: Messages
  Stamps & Covers
  Space Cover 220: Deke!

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   Space Cover 220: Deke!
stevedd841
Member

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

posted 06-30-2013 09:25 AM     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 220 (June 30, 2013)

Donald K. "Deke" Slayton's dramatically signs this Swanson rubber stamped cachet cover as a Project Mercury astronaut for what would have been America's second orbital spaceflight for Project Mercury, May 24, 1962. But, it was not to be. Deke Slayton was grounded nine weeks before his orbital spaceflight due to "idiopathic atrial fibrillation", an erratic heart rate, and was quickly replaced by backup astronaut, Scott Carpenter.

An uncanceled Harry Gordon cover is pictured above and would have been a showcase cover for America's second orbital space flight had Deke Slayton's flight status not been pulled. The cover is signed by Donald K. "Deke" Slayton, and now is a poignant reminder of a spaceflight that was not made by a Project Mercury astronaut after a remarkable turn of events pulled his flight status and canceled his spaceflight.

Space Cover #220: Deke!

Deke Slayton is shown during his workup for his MA-7 spaceflight, credit MSFC NASA.

Deke Slayton, Project Mercury astronaut and a United States Air Force Test Pilot, was slated to be Project Mercury's second astronaut to orbit the Earth until NASA officials ground him on March 15, 1962, due to "idiopathic atrial fibrillation," a medical condition involving an erratic heart rate. Slayton's condition is first observed during astronaut centrifuge tests conducted earlier in August 1959 at Johnsville, Pennsylvania. As a result of his medically disqualifying heart problem, he is replaced by backup astronaut Scott Carpenter for Project Mercury's second manned orbital spaceflight in Mercury Atlas-7. NASA management's decision was irrevocable.

Astronaut Deke Slayton was scheduled to take Mercury Atlas-7 spacecraft into space and Earth orbit on this flight. His signing this MA-7 launch cover as "Donald K. Slayton, Mercury astronaut" showcases a launch cover for Mercury Atlas-7 what would have been his premier space flight as America's second astronaut to orbit the Earth. The cover shown above is a bittersweet reminder of Deke Slayton's being removed from NASA's second manned orbital space flight only nine weeks before his flight. It also portends his determined efforts to challenge his doctor's medical opinion removing him from active flight status and ending his career as a Project Mercury astronaut.

Slayton consults with the Chief of Cardiology at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to solicit his support, and he also consults with U.S. Air Force heart specialists at the U.S. Air Force School of Medicine in San Antonio, Texas, to reverse his doctor's finding that has grounded him. Subsequent to this, NASA Administrator James Webb receives a written medical report from the primary U.S. Air Force physician attending Slayton stating that Slayton, "…should not be assigned a flight."

Administrator Webb sadly announces that Deke Slayton is removed from flight status for Mercury Atlas-7 orbital mission based upon his having an erratic heart rate. Only later do military doctors tacitly acknowledge previously knowing about astronaut Slayton's heart condition. Slayton fights the medically disqualifying test data and his removal as late as December 1964 but is unsuccessful in his efforts. Deke Slayton firmly contends, "I've never been grounded, and I'm not now. I still hope to get my chance to go beyond the atmosphere."

Resigned to accept his fallen star status, astronaut Slayton initially is assigned a ground job as Coordinator of Astronaut Activities. In September 1962, he takes over operation of NASA's Astronaut Office. In November 1963, he resigns his U.S. Air Force commission, and he is appointed NASA's Director of Flight Crew Operations. With his training as a U.S. Air Force Test Pilot, Project Mercury astronaut, and now as a NASA manager, Deke Slayton directs the Astronaut Office, Aircraft Operations Office, Flight Crew Integration Division, Crew Training and Simulation Division, and the Crew Procedures Division. It is a good fit for Slayton, strengthening, supporting, and advancing the work of NASA.

Ironically, astronaut Deke Slayton's efforts to return to flight status finally are successful twelve years later when he is assigned as an astronaut and crewmember on the United States' and Soviet Union's Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. On July 15, 1975, the Apollo crew of Deke Slayton, Tom Stafford, and Vance Brand rocket into space and make the first international meeting in space with a Soviet Russian crew on the international Apollo Soyuz Test Project mission, extending friendship and goodwill to Soviet Russian cosmonauts, and paving the way for future international cooperation in space. It also is a remarkable turn of events for Deke Slayton.

Steve Durst, SU 4379

RockyMnWay
Member

Posts: 53
From: Westminster, CO, USA
Registered: Jul 2011

posted 06-30-2013 02:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RockyMnWay   Click Here to Email RockyMnWay     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very nice covers and a nice write up. Being a newbie to astrophilately this is a great way to learn about what is out there. Are these covers rare? Assuming signed they would be. Very nice!

stevedd841
Member

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

posted 06-30-2013 06:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you for your comment.

Remember, we all start at the beginning on lesson 1, so don't worry about that or about being a newbie. You also have found a great space site to burn through that learning curve. Many folks on this site will answer just about any question you have or will direct you to the right person or persons to get a knowledgeable answer for you.

Deke Slayton's story about losing his Mercury Atlas-7 mission nine weeks away from his spaceflight is an incredible story about triumph over failure. Through hard work and perseverance, Slayton is able to regain his astronaut status as a member of the US and USSR Apollo Soyuz Test Project mission, 12 years later, and he makes a remarkable comeback.

Now, to answer your question,five years ago, you could buy these covers for $20 to $25 each, Slayton's autograph was not particularly difficult to find but with time, knowledge about his brief participation as an astronaut in Project Mercury has faded.

My estimate for a period Project Mercury Deke Slayton autographed cover would be $50 to $100, and possibly higher on his MA-7 mission cover such as the one I've shown, I would estimate this example at $200 to $250, but you want his classic period autograph and not an autograph post the Apollo Soyuz Test Project, 1975 and later.

I think you can find the cover you want, too, it's doable.

DChudwin
Member

Posts: 972
From: Lincolnshire IL USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 06-30-2013 06:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Deke's autograph on these covers with his full name are much less common than his later signature where he used "DK Slayton."

Deke was an excellent signer through the mail in the 1970s and 1980s.

RockyMnWay
Member

Posts: 53
From: Westminster, CO, USA
Registered: Jul 2011

posted 06-30-2013 06:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RockyMnWay   Click Here to Email RockyMnWay     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you Steve. I appreciate the information. I find Deke's professionalism and triumphs over disappointments inspiring and extraordinary.

David Ball and his book "American Astrophilately" have been very helpful in getting me started.

I really enjoy this particular forum and hope to hunt down these nice covers as well as others of the Mercury era. Any suggestions on dealers/websites?

stevedd841
Member

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

posted 06-30-2013 07:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Agree, many thanks for your additional information, David, concerning the long versus short Deke Slayton signed autograph. You are dead on.

RockyMn, will email you separately with a few favorite space cover source recommendations.

NAAmodel#240
Member

Posts: 138
From: Charleston, SC USA
Registered: Jun 2005

posted 07-01-2013 04:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NAAmodel#240   Click Here to Email NAAmodel#240     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steve presents the best Deke autographed cover that has so far come to light. This follows his iconic John Glenn Mercury cover. Just beautiful. Thanks for the peek.

Apollo-Soyuz
Member

Posts: 868
From: Shady Side, Md
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 07-01-2013 06:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo-Soyuz   Click Here to Email Apollo-Soyuz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a cover from my ASTP exhibit with Deke Slayton's autograph.

------------------
John Macco
Space Unit #1457

stevedd841
Member

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

posted 07-02-2013 06:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
David, thank you for your kind comments about the early Deke Slayton cover examples. They are very much appreciated. And congratulations on joining our group to post new Space Covers of the Week starting this next week. We look forward to seeing them!

John, thank you also for the scan showing a Space City Cover Society cover for the selection of the U.S. ASTP crew, January 30, 1973, in Houston, Texas. All, please note, John's ASTP cover shows a great example of the short D. K. Slayton autograph in the center of the cover. John, thank you for including it in the discussion.

All times are CT (US)

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | The Source for Space History & Artifacts

Copyright 1999-2012 collectSPACE.com All rights reserved.


Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.47a





advertisement