Space Cover #245: USS Yorktown Apollo 8 Recovery
Apollo 8 heads home after successfully orbiting the moon needing only one mid-course correction along the way. Separation of the command module from the service module occurred at 146 hours, 31 minutes into the flight. A double-skip maneuver conducted during the re-entry steering phase resulted in an altitude gain of 25,000 to 30,000 feet. The re-entry velocity was 24,696 mph, with heat shield temperatures reaching 5,000 degrees F. Parachute deployment and other re-entry events were on schedule and non-eventful. Apollo 8 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on December 27, 1968. The splashdown was about 5,100 yards from the recovery ship USS Yorktown, 147 hours after launch and precisely on time. According to prior planning, helicopters and aircraft hovered over the spacecraft, and pararescue personnel were not deployed until local sunrise, 50 minutes after splashdown. The Apollo 8 crew reached the recovery ship an hour and a half after splashing down.
The scans at the top of the post are the "normal" Beck printed cachet and the Beck RSC sent to the prime recovery ship, created with a machine cancel of December 27th.
The top cover shown above is a variation of the covers with the Public Affairs Office corner card added to the envelope. I don't know how many of these were created but I have seen several of them over the years. The second cover is the hand cancel from the USS Yorktown which is a tough cover to find. I have seen only a handful of them with most being on #10 envelopes. The third cover above is a very rare cover indeed having both the machine cancel and the hand cancel. It is clear that the cover went through the cancelling device upside down and the postal clerk "corrected" cancelling the stamps by applying the hand cancel. This is the only hand and machine cancel cover I have ever seen.
Covers sent by collectors for the recovery cachet and cancel that arrived too late to be aboard ship for the recovery were all given a return to port cancel.
These scans are some USS Yorktown return to port covers. The first is a Beck printed cachet hand cancelled on the "return to port" date – interestingly this cover has the Beck number for the USS Guadalcanal and an Atlantic cachet. The second is the "normal" return to port cover which has the USS Yorktown ship RSC applied instead of the Apollo 8 recovery cachet. The third cover has the Public Affairs Office corner card (it has a very light impression of the corner card).
So if you want to collect a wide variety of prime recovery ship covers – Apollo 8 and the USS Yorktown is the mission for you!