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  Space Cover 239: Almost Impossible!

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 239: Almost Impossible!

Posts: 183
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 11-11-2013 03:36 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 239 (November 10, 2013)

The crew of Gemini 3, Commander Gus Grissom and Pilot John Young, sign their recovery cover onboard Primary Recovery Ship, USS Intrepid, CVS-11, in the Atlantic Ocean near Grand Turk Island, March 23, 1965. In addition to having the crew autographs of Grissom and Young, the printed Beck cover is also an unnumbered Beck crew cover, thought to have been distributed only to crew members aboard the ship.

After the first docking of two vehicles in space, a Gemini agena target vehicle and the Gemini 8 spacecraft, Commander Neil Armstrong and Pilot Dave Scott have to emergency abort their mission due to a stuck thruster rocket. Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott sign this Space Craft Cachet cover on their mission's launch date, March 16, 1966. As the cover pictured at the top of the page, both this autographed Gemini 8 cover and the Gemini 3 cover above are almost impossible to find to add to a space cover collection.

Space Cover #239: Almost Impossible, GT-3 and GT-8 Crew Signed Covers

Projects Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, have always held a fascination for me as a new fledgling space cover collector, then as a seasoned collector, and now, as an experienced, maybe overly seasoned collector forgetting many of those earlier things I had learned. One area that always has fascinated me were the crew signed covers of Project Gemini. There were a total of 12 Project Gemini missions, with Gemini missions three through twelve specified to be manned space flights to test spacecrafts and astronaut crews to work and work well in the hostile environment of space. Project Gemini became a major milestone on the way to Project Apollo, finishing concurrently as the Apollo Program was starting, but proving that astronauts could also perform spacewalks, accomplish scientific tests, and, time wise, could make a simulated trip to the Moon, in preparation for the Apollo Program.

Many space cover collectors decided to collect the rich number of new missions and expansion of astronaut crews from the six astronauts of Project Mercury to the ten crews of Project Gemini. Early on, the Commander of GT-3, Gus Grissom, was killed with the Apollo 1 crew in a tragic fire in a training accident, January 27, 1967, and subsequently making the crew signed cover for GT-3 almost impossible to complete unless you already had a crew signed cover for the mission, or unless you had a single crew member signed Gus Grissom cover for the GT-3 flight and only needed Grissom's Pilot, John Young's autograph to finish it. After the loss of Grissom, obtaining the autograph of John Young, became almost equally difficult, and other early astronauts also became increasingly reluctant to sign covers. Many of these early astronauts were affable and agreeable signers in this period, but one by one they began to drop out and decline signing autographs on crew covers and other space covers of their missions. The Golden Age of astronaut autograph signings sadly was ending as astronauts opted not to sign covers.

On March 17, 1966, on the second day of their mission, Commander of GT-8, Neil Armstrong, and his Pilot, Dave Scott, experienced an uncontrolled thruster jet on their spacecraft in orbit and survived an inflight spacecraft emergency, aborting their Gemini mission, and landing in the South Pacific Ocean in the vicinity of Okinawa. Upon recovery, the GT-8 crew was besieged to sign crew covers for their mission and slowly retreated from the general public and the public's increasing requests for the crew member signed covers. Neil Armstrong, an approachable astronaut and a great signer of space covers, gradually pulled back and after a short period of time would only sign his photos. Then, later, he stopped signing covers all together. Dave Scott, Armstrong's Pilot, was somewhat more accommodating, but followed suit to not sign covers after completing his time in the Apollo program.

So for many space cover collectors, those ten crew signed covers of the Gemini 3 through Gemini 12 missions are a test of completion of a space cover collector's efforts to complete a full set of Project Gemini manned flight covers. The real test, though, is do you have crew signed covers for Gemini 3 and Gemini 8, the two almost impossible missions? If you do, tell me and add it to my thread here. I would like to hear how you did it and compare notes. Many thanks.

Steve, SU 4379.

Ken Havekotte

Posts: 1910
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 11-11-2013 04:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steve, enjoyed this weeks' space cover feature with hard-to-find Gemini crew signed covers, and most certainly, those of GT-3 and 8 are indeed the rarest.

If I recall, though, Gemini 8's pilot Dave Scott did in fact accommodate signature requests for space covers long after the Apollo lunar program was over with. After his departure from the astronaut corps in 1972, I recall mailing him cover requests throughout the mid/late 1970s, and getting most of them back signed as requested.

I think the veteran Gemini/Apollo astronaut was very cooperative with autograph requests during his tenure as deputy director, and later as center director, of NASA's Dryden Flight Research at Edwards AFB, CA, until his retirement from the space agency in Oct. 1977.

Perhaps the third hardest-to-find Gemini crew signed cover would be Gemini 10 with Young and Collins, would you agree?

Next would probably be, in my opinion, GT-4 with McDivitt and White, even though at one time I did own more than a dozen or so crew signed covers from the second manned Gemini spaceflight with America's first EVA/spacewalk. To me, it would seem GT-4 signed covers were somewhat easier to come by than GT-10, even though White was no longer with us after Jan. 1967.

After GT-4, maybe GT-12 since Aldrin stopped signing space covers in 1979, along with GT-6, 9, and 7 in very close order.


Posts: 183
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 11-11-2013 06:30 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 comments, they are very much appreciated! Yes, I would certainly agree that the Gemini 10 crew signed cover of Young and Collins would be third on my list of difficult Gemini space covers to collect. This is somewhat interesting in that both astronauts are still alive and look like they will still be with us in the foreseeable future. Earlier, I thought the Gemini 4 crew of McDivitt and White was fairly easy to find and collect, but that crew does not seem to be very easy to collect today. After that, would add Gemini 12 crew of Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell. We are both on the same page for these crews.

The remainder of the Gemini crews seem to be fairly evenly distributed. And yes, I apologize for being overly hard on Dave Scott. He was always interesting in my meetings with him and certainly was accessible in offering his autographs to space cover collectors for many years, well past the time frame I cited. I quit sending covers off for astronaut autographs after Skylab but did track signed covers well after that, too.


Posts: 1265
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 11-18-2013 07:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not nearly as impressive as Steve's GT-3 crew-signed cover on an unnumbered Beck Cachet, but here is my GT-3. And this also has a tie to Steve:

This is an uncacheted cover, signed by both GT3 crewmwen with a March 23, 1965 Cape Canaveral machine cancel.

Both Steve and I were at a picnic for airmail cover collectors many years ago. They had a box of assorted air mail covers for sale, most of which were early-20th-Century "propeller plane" covers (e.g. - not too interesting to space collectors like Steve and me). Well, another collector was looking through the box and found this jewel for $75! Both Steve and I looked at it and told the guy that the signatures looked good.!

After the other collector got done looking at the box Steve, being the gentleman that he is, motioned to me to go for it! So I did! Thanks Steve!!!

No GT-8 crew-signed cover in my collection yet. That's the only crew-signed that I am still missing from M/G/A...

Bob M

Posts: 1387
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 11-24-2013 11:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Assembling a complete (10) Gemini crew signed cover collection/set is almost as difficult as completing an Apollo crew signed cover collection (15). Yes, GT-3, GT-8 and GT-10 are the rarest, with GT-4's and GT-12's probably next. But the problem, like with Apollo crew signed covers, are forgeries and we must be careful with GT-3, GT-8 and GT-10 especially, with input and advice from experienced collectors especially needed for them.

For example, over 20 years ago, before I gained sufficient experience, I bought a GT-8 Armstrong/Scott crew signed cover from Seymour Rodman hoping more than expecting it to be authentic. As time went on, I realized my mistake.


Posts: 14
From: Rocky Point, NY, USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 11-25-2013 11:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tallpaul     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was the fortunate bidder who won the GT 3 cover, lot #40047, in the recent Heritage sale. My mentor felt that one reason why I picked it up so inexpensively is because it was from a secondary recovery vessel and not the primary. Mind you I am not complaining. Now if I could just find a nice GT-8.

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