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  Space Cover 252: First Shuttle Landing at KSC

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 252: First Shuttle Landing at KSC
Bob M

Posts: 1394
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 02-09-2014 07:07 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 252 (February 9, 2014)

Space Cover #252: STS-41B: First Space Shuttle Landing at KSC

Thirty years ago on February 11, on STS-41B, the tenth Space Shuttle flight, OV-99 Challenger achieved the first landing of a Shuttle orbiter at KSC, thus becoming the first spacecraft to land at its launch site. STS-7 was originally scheduled to make the first landing at KSC, but unacceptable weather caused a wave-off and subsequent landing at Edwards AFB, CA.

Shown here are three STS-41B covers canceled at KSC on February 11, 1984, marking the first KSC Shuttle landing. The cover at the top, a "mission patch" cacheted cover, is nicely autographed by the 5-person crew (which required five separate mailings to JSC, from December 1984 to May 1985).

This landing cover is cacheted with a special "Challenger/First KSC Landing" printed cachet and nicely canceled for the landing from four KSC-area post offices (via Ken Havekotte).

These "Challenger/First KSC landing" cacheted covers were originally designed and intended to be used for the planned STS-7 landing at KSC, but were saved and later used for the 41B landing.

While 41B is primarily known for achieving the first landing at KSC, it also had several other notable events, including Bruce McCandless achieving the first untethered spacewalk using an MMU; the failed PAM deployment of two communication satellites; and the first reflight of a refurbished satellite, SPAS-2 (which had to remain in the payload bay because of a RMS problem).

Space Shuttle orbiters landed at only three locations: Edwards AFB, CA, White Sands Missile Range, NM, and KSC, FL. I've never seen a cover with a cancel from each of the Shuttle orbiter's first landings at these three sites (EAFB/STS-1; WSMR/STS-3; and KSC/STS-41B). Are any out there?


Posts: 188
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 02-10-2014 04:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bob, many thanks for your refresher about the STS-41B mission. I had served with one of the astronauts in 1966 aboard a guided missile destroyer, USS Benjamin Stoddard, DDG-22, in the engineering department. Imagine my surprise when I saw him on this cover for the STS-41B mission and his testing of the astronaut Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU). I just had to send this cover to Bruce for his autograph. Many thanks, Bruce!

Ken Havekotte

Posts: 1943
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 02-11-2014 06:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The first shuttle orbiter landing at Kennedy Space Center was indeed a highlight for this astrophilately servicer and cover provider.

A little-known fact pertains to one of the postal hand strikes, as illustrated above (3rd cover down), for the historic Feb. 11, 1984 first shuttle crew landing here at our nation's Spaceport.

The postmark cancel used on a "1" cachet printed envelope, in which the special cachet design was provided by "on base" NASA Exchange, had a short life, so-to-speak.

It was a new postmark device, used at my suggestion, when processing and cancelling covers at the postal administration facility of the Orlando International Airport, located 40-some miles west from the Florida space center.

First-time use of the postmark device was for the Feb. 11th shuttle Challenger landing from space in 1984 on Mission STS-41B here at Kennedy.

The same KSC-cancel impression with a 32815 zip code was used again, for both launch and landing events, during the next shuttle flight of Mission STS-41C in April 1984, another Challenger mission.

The postmark's final impressions had been used for space cover cancellations of Shuttle Mission STS-41D in Aug. 1984 with first-time orbiter Discovery.

Why the cancel device wasn't used afterwards is a mystery to me! I am just not able to recall those details some 30 years afterwards.

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