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  Space Cover 351: SRB Retrieval Ship Covers

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 351: SRB Retrieval Ship Covers
Bob M
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posted 01-10-2016 07:22 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 351 (January 10, 2016)

Space Cover #351: Solid Rocket Booster Retrieval Ship Covers

To recover the spent Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) casings after each Space Shuttle launch, NASA utilized two specially built ships: UTC Freedom Star and UTC Liberty Star. Each ship was 176 feet in length and had a crew of ten. Prior to each Space Shuttle launch, each ship would be stationed about eight miles from the predicted impact zone. After SRB splashdown, each ship would then tow the spent casings and other recovered booster hardware to port.

At the beginning of the Space Shuttle Program, and for a limited amount of time, covers were serviced by each ship for each Shuttle SRB retrieval. At first, covers were rubber stamped with a cachet of a silhouette of each ship, with information added to the front about the recovery, such as mission, date and retrieval location. Some were even signed by the ship's master, but most had facsimile rubber stamp signatures applied. Liberty Star's captain, James Bond, was especially accommodating in signing these covers, while rubber stamp facsimile signatures were generally applied by other captains.

For example, Freedom Star's first captain, Dan Riksen, typically used a rubber stamp signature, but the STS-2 cover shown above was later sent to him and actually signed and inscribed by him.

These two covers were serviced for the STS-4 SRB retrieval and the top cover shows one of several different printed color cachets applied to the covers. The bottom cover has printed information added to the back of the cover, with a Dan Riksen facsimile signature.

The top cover was serviced for the ninth SRB retrieval of the SRBs (STS-9) and has another type of color cachet applied. The bottom cover was serviced for STS-41C (eleventh Shuttle flight) and has retrieval information rubber stamped on the back, along with a rubber stamp signature.

I have no retrieval ship covers after STS-41C and do wonder if that may have been the last retrieval that the two ships provided cover service for, as they did end the service because of excessive requests. I also don't know if covers were serviced for the STS-1 booster retrievals. Also I don't know if these retrieval covers were typically carried onboard the two ships during retrieval operations or just kept in their home port at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 01-10-2016 08:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wasn't there also an SRB retrieval ship for Vandenberg flights? Although no flights took place, were any covers made, such as when the ship was announced?

Ken Havekotte
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posted 01-10-2016 10:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bob, will email you soon, but when being online late tonight, I came across this cS posting of yours.

Yes, indeed, USBI did produce color printed cachet covers for STS-1 from Canaveral on Apr. 14, 1981, and were hand-signed by the ship's captains of both retrieval vessels.

In addition, a limited number of rubber stamp cachet covers were processed and hand-signed for the first shuttle launch.

All covers from STS-1, as with the noted above types, were aboard/carried on the ships themselves, as confirmed by United Technologies public relations rep Sue Butler to me during the mid-1980's.

Mission STS-41C, though, was not the last USBI/Morton Thiokol company produced SRB pickup/retrieval color cachet cover.

The final company-cover issue of their long series was for the 12th retrieval of the boosters from STS-41D by both the renamed Liberty Star and Freedom Star of that year (1984).

It would appear, though, that only a handful of the 41D printed covers were filled-out and signed. A few that I have, while postmarked at the Cape on Aug. 31, 1984, are blank with no signatures.

Ross
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posted 01-11-2016 06:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It should also be noted that a third SRB Retrieval ship was introduced for later missions; the UTC Independence. I don't know which was it's first mission or whether any covers were produced.

It should also be noted that commemorative covers, usually postmarked at Cape Canaveral, were produced by Bob Boudwin for all three ships. These covers were not on board the ships during retrieval.

Bob M
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posted 01-11-2016 11:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the additional info on these interesting early Space Shuttle covers.

In preparing my SCOTW presentation, I failed to locate a special SRB retrieval cover to include and it is shown now.

The cover has two cancels marking the return to port of both retrieval ships, towing the two STS-1 spent SRBs, and also has Liberty/Freedom Star rubber stamp cachets.

It was probably privately done, as I bought it from early space cover collector Ray Burton for $6. Ray evidently had inside connections and had rubber stamp cachet impressions from both the Liberty Star and Freedom Star applied to the cover along with the cancels.

I also have received scans of eight SRB retrieval ship covers from Jason Rubin, with two covers having cachets I've not seen before. Evidently, the two ships used a number of color photo cachets depicting the two ships - perhaps a different photo cachet for each SRB retrieval mission.

These covers were very well done and a complete set of Liberty Star and Freedom Star covers from STS-1 to STS-41D would make for an impressive collection.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 01-11-2016 11:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hart & Ross, Yes, I do recall a shuttle booster retrieval ship(s) getting ready for the first shuttle mission from Vandenberg AFB. But I just can't remember at the moment what their operational status was before the 51L tragedy changed everything in Jan. 1986.

Well-known space cover dealer Bob Boudwin of Woodbury, NJ, did in fact produce many space covers all throughout his long space cover career, including SRB Cape-retrieved events, as Ross pointed out.

Even before STS-1 flew, covers were being produced for various SRB test events off the Florida Coast along with other booster- related activities, of which Boudwin did covers for.

My firm would cancel or postmark his covers by the thousands here at the Florida Space Coast; mainly at the Cape, KSC, Patrick AFB, and Merritt Island postal facilities.

But Boudwin was one of several other major U.S. and European space cover dealers that would request philatelic cancel services for many of the SRB retrieval events during the 1980/90's.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 01-11-2016 12:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just saw McLeod's recent posting on this topic, and yes, there were color printed cachet covers (as noted above) from UT's United Space Boosters (later Morton Thiokol) from STS-1 to 41D.

I've got several hundred of them from most of the retrieval missions, all carried, and signed by the ship's captain. Very limited, though, with STS-1, 2, and 3, but I do have many that can be available from STS-4, 5, a few 6's, 7, some 8's, 9, 41B, and 41C. In most cases both ship covers are available.

Most of mine came from a leading USBI booster project official as he was leaving the company along with a few of their public relations folks during the mid/late 1980's.

Also got many specialties, like with Ray Burton, of SRB combo-events of rubber stamp applications and others.

Perhaps Bob McLeod can post here several of the SRB retrieval covers once I can get some copies and samples over to him. Or better yet, let me mail over to Bob a bunch of the company-produced booster covers, or several of each, by the end of the month along with other issues, copies, etc.

Antoni RIGO
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posted 01-11-2016 04:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Antoni RIGO   Click Here to Email Antoni RIGO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bob, a very interesting topic.

Here two of my SRB retrieval ship covers (both are UTC Liberty) with slightly different rubber stamp cachets.

My STS-1 cover postamrked at KSC on April 12, 1981

And my STS-9 cover postmarked at CC on Nov 30, 1983.


Sorry, but I am unable to identify if signatures are original or facsimile.

JBoe
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posted 01-11-2016 06:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for JBoe   Click Here to Email JBoe     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is great information! I recently posted this posting of my STS-2 recovery cover for the difference of the cancellation and retrieval. After reading all your comments, I'm kinda worried that the Master's signature may be a autopen or facsimile. However, I think that the location was done in a ball point ink pen.

Ken, I would be interested in any of the STS-1 and STS-2 retrieval covers with the Masters' signatures!

Ken Havekotte
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posted 01-11-2016 07:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
JBoe, Might be able to provide a set from STS-2 as requested, but just not sure about STS-1. Got many extras from 4, 6, 7, 9, 41B and 41C, but I failed to report that most all of the company-issued 41C's were rubber stamped for the "write-in" information and signatures of the ship masters were also rubber stamped. The same could also be said for STS-6 as well, or at least, for the most part.

Let me email you a little bit later if you don't mind. I'm not even sure, to be perfectly honest, what would be a fair and reasonable price for the USBI/Morton Thiokol printed covers? Any ideas?

quote:
Originally posted by Antoni RIGO:
Sorry, but I am unable to identify if signatures are original or facsimile.
The signatures on your two provided retrieval covers look fine to me by ship captain's James Bond and Ed Sottak.

But I've never seen the black rubber stamp impression, though, from your provided STS-1 cover issue. Did you mail the cover direct to USBI's Cape-side located administrative office, in which afterwards, was it mailed back to you filled-out and signed with the provided rubber stamp cachet on it?

The other retrieval cover for STS-9 is one of the German dealer-produced issues, which by the way, I remember servicing and cancelling some of them like this for German shuttle cover collectors and dealers alike.

Ross
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posted 01-12-2016 07:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks very much for this thread. It has spurred me to check some covers I bought during the last year or two and think about adding them to my website.

A couple from STS-1:

STS-2:

And one from STS-61C which seems later then mentioned above.

Ken, I would also be interested in purchasing any ones except the above five.

Ross
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posted 01-12-2016 07:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And two from STS-2:

Antoni RIGO
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posted 01-12-2016 03:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Antoni RIGO   Click Here to Email Antoni RIGO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Many thanks Ken.

Ross, if possible, please add a new chapter to your web for SRB Retrieval Ship covers, and maybe with two subchapters: covers carried on board ships and commemorative covers (not carried).

fimych
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posted 01-19-2016 04:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fimych   Click Here to Email fimych     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is my SRB cover for STS-98, the Atlantis mission in 2001 to add the Destiny module to ISS.

Bob M
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posted 04-02-2016 03:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Shown here are two more SRB Recovery Ship covers. These are scans made from color copies sent to me by Ken Havekotte.

The top cover is a scarce STS-1 SRB recovery ship cover from the UTC Liberty. The bottom cover is also from the Liberty and was onboard during the STS-51B recovery operations and is nicely signed by Capt. Ed Sottak.

Cozmosis22
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posted 05-09-2017 04:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hart Sastrowardoyo:
Wasn't there also an SRB retrieval ship for Vandenberg flights?
Here is some info about that third SRB retrieval ship, Independence; from a NASA Activities publication in 1985.

Ross
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posted 05-10-2017 10:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting information. From the covers I've got it appears the Independence was relocated to the East coast when the Vandenburg Shuttle facility was mothballed. Anyone know the first mission it was used for?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-10-2017 10:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to NASA's SRB Retrieval Ships Historical Narrative:
A third retrieval vessel, Independence, was built in 1985 by Halter Marine in Moss Point, Mississippi to support shuttle launch operations at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It was owned by the U.S. Air Force. After construction, she spent time at KSC getting ready for service. Independence, along with Freedom Star and Liberty Star, also was used in the salvage and recovery operations following the Challenger accident. On August 22, 1987, Independence left KSC for Port Hueneme, California, where the Air Force turned the vessel over to the Navy.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 05-10-2017 11:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And it retained its name; the MV Independence is maintained by MAR.

Interesting that it was turned over in 1987, as they believed that Vandenburg would still be used as a shuttle launch facility at that time.

Ross
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posted 11-26-2017 08:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've finally started to add a shuttle ships section to my website as suggested by Antoni. As I go questions will arise. I would appreciate help with these.

My first two questions are:

  1. I have Bob Boudwin SRB Recovery covers for STS-26 to STS-51L. Did he do covers for any other missions.
  2. The earliest printed UT's United Space Boosters covers I've seen are for STS-4. Are there printed covers for STS-1 to STS-3?

Ken Havekotte
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posted 11-26-2017 11:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, Ross, as reported earlier on this topic, UT did produce printed and carried cachet covers from STS-1 until 41-D.

Antoni RIGO
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posted 11-27-2017 03:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Antoni RIGO   Click Here to Email Antoni RIGO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ross, concerning your second question, it is absolutely confirmed that United Technologies (UT) produced covers from STS-1 onwards.

However, it is not yet confirmed that UT produced printed covers for STS-1 to STS-3, as you asked.

Here is a UT rubber stamp cachet cover (not printed) for STS-1:

Please, can anyone let us show the image for a UT printed cover for STS-1 to STS-3? And we will confirm that they exist. Thanks.

Nor I have seen UT printed covers for STS-1 to STS-3.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 11-27-2017 03:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As mentioned beforehand, there were indeed UT printed/carried cachet covers for each of the retrieval vessels for STS-1, 2, 3, and each has been signed by the ship's captain. I'll get some images of them here soon and maybe Bob can post them for me.

Regarding Antoni's question about an additional UT rubber stamp cachet referred to in the prior post, I am almost completely certain the rubber stamp impression was in no way associated with UT. It's more than likely a German space cover dealer produced stamp for commercial philatelic uses. I am certain of this.

Antoni RIGO
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posted 11-27-2017 05:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Antoni RIGO   Click Here to Email Antoni RIGO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Ken for this valuable information.

Then, these RSC with UT logo and name are definitevly produced by German dealers and not by UT itself.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 11-27-2017 07:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With almost 100% certainty, Antoni, I would say the RSC, even with the UT/USB logo, are in no way company related.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 11-28-2017 02:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are the UT/USB printed and carried SRB retrieval ship covers for STS-1, 2 and 3. Insert cards were also included with each issue as well.

Antoni RIGO
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posted 11-28-2017 03:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Antoni RIGO   Click Here to Email Antoni RIGO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks again, Ken.

And now, a new goal for me...

Ross
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posted 11-29-2017 08:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Ken. Is it OK if I use these scans on my site?

Also to Bob, Antoni and others can I use your scans on my site with full acknowledgement?

Bob M
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posted 11-29-2017 03:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Certainly, Ross. And please give us your website when ready so we can check out your SRB retrieval ship covers and your entire site.

Antoni RIGO
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posted 11-29-2017 03:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Antoni RIGO   Click Here to Email Antoni RIGO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ross, feel free to use all my images.

Furthermore, if you need some others, just ask me and I will look into my material. Maybe I have what you are searching for.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 11-29-2017 04:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
By all means, same here as well, feel free to use any of these images for your website, Ross. Do you have or need any of the other UT printed SRB retrieval covers from STS-4 thru 41-D, which I do have, if needed.

Ross
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posted 12-01-2017 07:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ken, thanks for your reply and yes I do need most of the UT printed covers. I only have both Freedom and Liberty for STS-6 and STS-7 and Freedom only for STS-10. I would be interested in purchasing the rest.

To all others, thanks for your replies. I will certainly post the address of my site when I upload the SRB page. For those interested in the rest of my site it is here.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 12-01-2017 07:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Ross and I do have the following UT printed covers available; Both ships for STS-2 hand signed by their captains ($25 set), both STS-4 ships captain signed ($25), ship pair for STS-5 hand signed by Liberty's captain and rubber stamp signed by the captain of the Freedom ($25 for the pair), both ships for STS-8 with stamped signatures ($25), STS-9/Freedom stamped by captain ($15), both ship covers with stamp signatures for STS-10/41B ($20 for the set), and both ships with printed signatures for STS-11/41C ($20). Take all 13 covers, Ross, for only $140 postpaid.

Other UT printed/carried covers are also available from the above indicated ships and missions, including STS-6/7 for both retrieval ships, but with less quantities
on those ships/missions before STS-9. There are, however, a few more issues available for STS-4 with both ships.

Ross
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posted 12-03-2017 07:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ken, thanks very much for your reply. I'll take the lot for US$140. Do you accept PayPal? If so please send me your email address.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 12-03-2017 12:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Ross, PayPal is fine and I just emailed you a few minutes ago.

Ross
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posted 12-05-2017 07:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Ken, I look forward to receiving the covers.

Ross
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posted 12-07-2017 08:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What do people think about this cover, especially the Cape Canaveral Port Authority cachet? Was it ever on board the UTC Liberty?

Ken Havekotte
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posted 12-07-2017 12:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Looks like another German space cover dealer produced SRB retrieval ship cover with an added, but not genuine, rubber stamp text address of the Canaveral Port Authority.

None of these in my opinion are genuine or authentic (similar to Antoni's above depicted post) as there were only 3-known types of UT/USB cachet issues from the early shuttle program years; 1) the employees' printed cachet covers and the two (2) black rubber stamps, shown at the very start of this topic, of the Liberty and Freedom vessels.

Ross
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posted 12-08-2017 08:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ken, do you think the following cover also has a fake cachet?

Edit: Just found that the address for the Canaveral Port Authority is correct. Thus the question is whether the cachet is genuine or not?

Cozmosis22
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posted 12-10-2017 03:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ross:
Ken, do you think the following cover also has a fake cachet?
Here is a similar cover with a slightly different earlier USNS REDSTONE cachet. This STS-9 liftoff Cape Canaveral postmark is not a UTC recovery ship cover but nice nonetheless.

A short discussion of tracking ships like Redstone's involvement in early space shuttle flights over here.

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