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  Space Cover 227: Sam, Miss Sam Monkeynauts

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 227: Sam, Miss Sam Monkeynauts
stevedd841
Member

Posts: 171
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 08-18-2013 08:04 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 227 (August 18, 2013)

Space Cover #227: Sam and Miss Sam, Early Monkeynauts

From the blueprints for the rocket engines, the first cross-section drawings showed four holes in the pattern of a double deuce on a pair of dice, known as "Little Joe" in the gambling community. Although four smaller circles were added later to represent adding four additional Recruit rocket motors to the rocket motor configuration, the original name Little Joe stuck. The four large stabilizing fins protruding from the test vehicle airframe also served to promote and to confer the name Little Joe on the test vehicle.

The primary purpose in developing the relatively simple and basic Little Joe launch vehicle was to save money using Little Joe rocket test vehicles instead of Atlas rockets. The Project Mercury Little Joe test vehicle would facilitate numerous test flights to evaluate different solutions to new and different problems pertaining to human space flight. Most importantly, Little Joe would directly address the problem of a flight crew escaping safely from the explosion of a launch vehicle at or shortly after takeoff on the launch pad.

After one Little Joe test failure and now two successful tests having been made, Langley managers and engineers advanced that they were confident they could test two space monkeys, Sam, on the fourth Little Joe space flight and Miss Sam to be launched on the fifth Little Joe test flight in conjunction with the Little Joe tests. Interestingly, the name Sam also has meaning. Sam is an acronym for the U.S. Air Force School of Aviation Medicine, at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas, where both Sam and Miss Sam are housed and trained.

A stylized George Goldey cover is pictured for Sam's successful flight, the cover above is from the author's collection.

Weather conditions are marginal in the Atlantic operating area with winds of 30 to 35 knots whipping high seas in the planned recovery area in the Atlantic Ocean and causing conditions too rough for helicopter operations to support the mission and recovery. The launch of space monkey Sam in his Little Joe rocket, however, proceeds on schedule at 11:15 am EST, December 4, 1959, from Wallops Island, Virginia, after launch officials determine the test flight can continue.

U.S. Navy destroyer USS Borie's deck crew hauls Sam's space capsule aboard ship, photo credit NASA-GRC.

Navy P2V search aircraft are over the top of the Sam's capsule 30 minutes after splashdown in spite of high wind and rough sea conditions in the operating area. Aircraft crews maintain visual contact on the spacecraft. U.S. Navy destroyer USS Borie steams at flank speed to the Little Joe capsule splashdown position, and an hour and a half later, the ship's crew has the test capsule and space monkey Sam aboard the ship. Upon opening the capsule hatch on deck, USS Borie's crew finds space monkey Sam "alive and kicking."

The Little Joe-2 test flight with space monkey Sam successfully accomplishes the following objectives: a high altitude abort sequence of a spacecraft and escape tower combination, physiological effects of acceleration on a primate, operation of the spacecraft's drogue parachute for recovery, and effectiveness of the space capsule recovery team. During Sam's flight, the rhesus monkey withstands "g" stress of his Mach 6 flight, and returns to Earth from an apogee of 53 miles altitude. More importantly, Sam endures the rigors of rocket flight including launch, reentry, and splashdown, and he is retrieved in excellent condition by primary recovery ship USS Borie.

Like her predecessor, Miss Sam roars off the launch pad at Wallops Island on the second Little Joe monkey test flight, photo credit NASA-MSFC.

(continued below)

stevedd841
Member

Posts: 171
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 08-18-2013 08:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Six weeks after Sam's flight, space monkey Miss Sam thunders off the launch pad in the Little Joe-1B rocket test at 9:23 am, the morning of January 21, 1960, Wallops Island, Virginia, on her successful flight and abort test over the Virginia coast and subsequent splashdown in the Atlantic Operating Area. Miss Sam rockets to an altitude of 9.3 miles with a speed of 2,021 miles per hour in her brief 8 minute and 35 second flight. She is successfully recovered from the Atlantic Ocean by a U.S. Marine Corps MAG-26 helicopter crew and is returned to Wallops Island, Virginia, for thorough medical checks after her flight. Miss Sam is found to be in excellent condition, completes all test objectives, and enthusiastically rejoins her fellow space monkey, Sam, post flight.

A stylized Miss Sam is pictured in this launch cover canceled on the mission's launch date at Wallops Island, Virginia; this classic Goldcraft cover is from the author's collection.

A MAG-26 recovery helo returns Miss Sam to Wallops Island for post flight examination while primary recovery ship, USS Opportune, ARS-41, locates and recovers the Little Joe-1B's escape tower. The USS Opportune then returns to port after completing her operational assignment supporting the mission. As a small ship, the ship does not have a post office aboard, and, no USS Opportune recovery ship covers are known for the recovery of Miss Sam in Little Joe-1B.

USS Opportune completes its mission assignment for Miss Sam's flight and cruises back to home port, photo credit National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors.

The success of Miss Sam's flight in Little Joe 1-B meant that the next Little Joe flight, the sixth in the series of test flights, termed Little Joe-5, would be the first flight to fully test a production model Mercury spacecraft taken from the McDonnell Aircraft Company's manufacturing line. Langley engineers close the chapter on developmental flight tests using boilerplate spacecraft models, and open a new chapter on qualification flight tests using an actual McDonnell spacecraft. Moving away from research and into development, the Space Task Group moved markedly closer to operational flight for Project Mercury with the success of Miss Sam's flight.

Space monkey Miss Sam is shown in her spacesuit and ready for her flight, photo credit NASA.

So, with the continuation of the 50th anniversary events for early space flights and especially those for Project Mercury, fondly remember two early monkeynauts, Sam and Miss Sam, at Wallops Island, Virginia, who were among the first to rocket away from Earth, land in their spacecrafts at sea, and complete a successful recovery with their primary recovery ship and rescue helo, showing astronauts that they too could do it. Would astronauts do as well?

Steve Durst, SU 4379

Hart Sastrowardoyo
Member

Posts: 2179
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 08-18-2013 08:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What, no covers with their paw prints?

stevedd841
Member

Posts: 171
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 08-19-2013 05:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Many thanks, Hart, great idea! Did not have a Sam or Miss Sam paw print cover, but will post one if you send it to me.

NAAmodel#240
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Posts: 140
From: Charleston, SC USA
Registered: Jun 2005

posted 08-19-2013 10:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NAAmodel#240   Click Here to Email NAAmodel#240     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Love seeing the classics like these. Thanks Steve.

Antoni RIGO
New Member

Posts: 5
From: Palma de Mallorca, Is. Baleares - SPAIN
Registered: Aug 2013

posted 08-19-2013 12:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Antoni RIGO   Click Here to Email Antoni RIGO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Steve, my first post here. Great topic and one of my favorites: animals in space. Thanks for sharing your huge knowledge with others.

I have this cover, only for adding a new image to this post.

A three line generic cachet.

Many collectors can pass by this cover as another of the thousands of space event covers. Just the opposite. A very key cover, especially for all who love animals in space.

Antoni RIGO (SU 4733)

stevedd841
Member

Posts: 171
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 08-19-2013 02:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Toni, Welcome to collectSPACE and Space Cover of the Week, it is great to have you join us!

The cover you've shown has a magenta rubber stamped cachet added by Wallops Island Postmaster, William Hudson, a great friend of space cover collectors.

You are correct in saying many collectors would pass by this important Wallops Island cover commemorating the important Little Joe test flight of space monkey Sam, December 4, 1959. Your cover indeed is an important early space cover. Thank you for adding it to our discussion for Sam and Miss Sam.

And David, thank you also for your comment and appreciation in seeing these early classic space covers. They truly are "oldies but goodies!"

Ross
Member

Posts: 378
From: Australia
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 08-20-2013 08:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steve, a couple of great covers. I have the companion cover to Antoni's. Now all I need is a SAM cover.

Antoni RIGO
New Member

Posts: 5
From: Palma de Mallorca, Is. Baleares - SPAIN
Registered: Aug 2013

posted 08-20-2013 10:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Antoni RIGO   Click Here to Email Antoni RIGO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A very interesting cover Ross.

Thanks for your kind words Steve.

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 1851
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 08-25-2013 01:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great topic, Steve, Hart, Ross and others that have posted — but I cannot ever recall seeing a "paw print autograph" of any rocket-flown monkeys or chimps from those pioneering space feats of the 1950/60s, except for one...

Paw prints, however, were "signed" by Miss Baker, America's "first lady of space," after her return as the first surviving primate to complete a successful flight into space aboard a Jupiter rocket from the Cape on May 28, 1959.

In my own collection are both a photograph and #10-size envelope cover with an original paw print signature of Miss Baker on each.

Clothed in a special spacesuit and helmet, the tiny female squirrel monkey, accompanied by fellow monkeynaut Able on the 15-minute-long flight, reached 350 miles high after zooming at a speed of about 10,000 mph over a distance of 1,500 miles. Immediately after the Atlantic Ocean recovery, she was given a banana and a cracker. After eating them, Miss Baker rolled over and went to sleep.

Baker outlived her spacemate, Able, by more than 20 years and was a resident of the Alabama Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL, until she died in 1984.

She is the second member of the space-faring monkey family who has been shot into outer space.

Old Reliable, except for the malfunction of the recovery capsule, would have probably been the first animal to go into space and return safely in Dec. 1958.

For Steve and others, though, do you know of any covers posted from the Able/Baker flight, also, I think covers were produced for Old Reliable on Dec. 13, 1958 from Port Canaveral or Patrick AFB, correct?

I've got a whole shoebox of covers from early Patrick rocket firings that I haven't had a chance yet to examine and check each one out, but only from the air force base and not Port Canaveral, do I have them for and many have no cachets on them.

stevedd841
Member

Posts: 171
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 08-25-2013 06:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ken, many thanks for your additional comments. To answer your questions, no, I haven't seen a ship's cover for the Able Baker mission or canceled post flight from USS Kiowa, ATF 72, as the recovery ship.

Concerning Old Reliable, here is the scan of the cover from my collection for the flight of Old Reliable monkey, December 13, 1958, Port Canaveral. It is not normal size, but midway between number 6 and number 10, I would size it as a number 7 cover.

Am not sure who made this early cachet, if someone out there in cS land knows, would appreciate your sharing that information. The cancel for Old Reliable is Port Canaveral. From my perspective, I would think Patrick Air Force Base would be great as would a cancel for U.S. Air Force Station. If you have a December 13, 1958, canceled cover for PAFB, it would be a real show stopper and is definitely worth the look for that cover!

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 1851
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 08-25-2013 06:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steve, A good cover for Old Reliable's flight from Port Canaveral, but I don't think the cachet on it is from any specific space cover maker. It appears to be a type-written format with a small printed or rubber stamp logo added for enhancement. And I don't recall ever seeing that logo image on another space cover, to the best of my knowledge.

In my opinion, though, I do consider both Port Canaveral and Patrick AFB postal cancels as legitimate early missile and rocket postal markings before 1962.

But my favorite would have to be, in most cases, Port Canaveral since it was, geographically speaking, the nearest post office station to all the early rocket launch pads.

But while those early launch pad facilities were indeed located on the now-Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Patrick AFB was much further south (just under 15 miles) from the Cape-side rocket base installation where the actual flights took off from.

Most of the administrative headquarters, air support, tracking, and numerous other support operations of the Cape rocket sites were located at the near-by Patrick air base, and still are today.

Unfortunately, the Cape air force station where the pads are located never had a separate postal unit there.

Therefore, from a geographic standpoint, the nearest post office would be Port/Cape Canaveral, not too far from the earlier launch pad structures, just south of Jetty Park with now-dismantled Complex 29/Polaris being the closest.

micropooz
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Posts: 1246
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 08-25-2013 07:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow, I had never heard the name "Old Reliable" for the monkey carried on the Dec 13, 1958 Jupiter flight. I've always heard him referred to as "Gordo". If we are, in fact, talking about the same monkey here, then there are Goldey cacheted Dec. 13, 1958 Port Canaveral hand-canceled covers out there for Gordo's flight...

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 1851
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 08-25-2013 08:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, indeed, "Old Reliable" is the same squirrel monkey as named "Gordo."

But the first monkey to launch aboard a rocket had been named "Albert," a rhesus monkey, aboard a German/U.S. V-2 rocket in 1948 from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Unfortunately, Albert did not survive the missile flight test.

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 1851
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 08-26-2013 05:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not only was "Old Reliable" a name used for "Gordo" the space monkey, but it was also the nickname of America's first large ballistic missile, the Redstone, developed and first flown by the U.S. Army's Wernher von Braun team during the early 1950s.

It became known as the "Father of American ballistic missiles" as the Redstone laid the groundwork for upcoming advances in U.S. missile and rocket technology.

In 1961 "Old Reliable" had boosted America's first two astronauts into space, and more than three years earlier, had orbited our nation's first satellite.

All times are CT (US)

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