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  Space Cover 423: STS-8 Space Cover Flight

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 423: STS-8 Space Cover Flight
Bob M

Posts: 1680
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 06-24-2017 08:14 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 423 (June 25, 2017)

Space Cover #423: STS-8: The Space Cover Flight

It was a dark and rainy night, on August 30, 1983, when Space Shuttle Challenger loudly lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, with a five-person crew aboard. Also aboard were 260,899 specially prepared covers stored in the cargo bay, plus another 1,001 covers carried in the crew cabin.

These 261,900 covers were aboard Challenger during its six-day flight, with Challenger and its philatelic contents landing safely at Edwards AFB, CA, on September 5, after completing 98 orbits of the earth. After required processing of the philatelic cargo by NASA and the US Postal Service, these flown covers were put on sale (for $15.35) so everyone interested could own something flown in space on the Space Shuttle.

Certainly the large majority of space cover collectors own at least one of these Challenger flown covers and many of us tried to have some signed by the crew. Four of the five crew members were eventually cooperative about signing these covers (see the letter below), but one crew member steadfastly refused to sign and consequently, it's believed that no cargo-stored covers exist signed by the entire five-person crew.

Space Cover collector-servicer extraordnaire, Ken Havekotte, was very active regarding the STS-8 flight and created a number of extra-special covers marking the STS-8 flight, including some affixed with the large $9.35 Express Mail stamps like those used on all the flown covers.

The top cover above is a rare cover canceled for the STS-8 launch and then flown to Houston for another launch-day cancel, then canceled again at Houston (Mission Control) the next day for the Insat-1B satellite deployment, and finally at Edwards AFB for Challenger's landing. Only ten such covers were done.

The bottom cover above was canceled first at KSC for the First Day of Issue of the $9.35 Express Mail stamp and then canceled again at KSC for the STS-8 launch and then at EAFB for Challenger's landing.

The cover at the top is one of the 260,899 flown cargo bay covers and is signed by four of the five crew members (with Truly's signature in person). Below it is a standard unflown STS-8 "patch" cover and signed by the five crew members.

This December 1983-dated letter from Dan Brandenstein informs a collector that the crew decided not to sign any of the flown covers because of their large numbers and commercial value and returned the flown cover unsigned — while all five crew members kindly signed the STS-8 unflown cover that was also enclosed. However, their decision changed later and four of the five did start signing the flown covers.

These STS-8 flown covers are extra special to me, as I was fortunate to be at KSC, at the News Media/Press Site, on that rainy night and saw Challenger, with three of the covers on board I now own, take off on its 2.5 million mile trip.


Posts: 242
From: Boston, Mass.
Registered: Jun 2005

posted 06-24-2017 03:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NAAmodel#240   Click Here to Email NAAmodel#240     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bob, a timely post. At the first APS Summer Session on Astrophilately on Monday students will be receiving the USPS folder with the STS-8 flown cover. Keep up the great work.


Posts: 1232
From: Staten Island, New York USA
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 07-05-2017 08:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Two points regarding this cover:
  • Dr. Bill Thornton still refuses to sign any STS-8 flown covers, either with just his name or as a completion (with the late Dale Gardner included, making it very rare) or with the three other surviving crew members

  • Ironically, the preparation and sale of these covers prompted the Apollo 15 crew to petition NASA to release the infamous "Sieger" moon-flown covers that were confiscated from them in 1971, arguing since this was a commercial venture carried out for profit by the US government, there was a double standard in regards to the Apollo 15 covers sold on their behalf.

Ken Havekotte

Posts: 2575
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 07-05-2017 09:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good points made and I didn't know that Dr. Thornton still refuses to sign any of the flown shuttle Challenger NASA/USPS covers. But just for the record though, the flown Apollo 15 Sieger lunar covers were not confiscated by the government until after the Apollo 16 flight in 1972.


Posts: 190
From: Raleigh, NC USA
Registered: Aug 2017

posted 01-19-2018 03:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for denali414   Click Here to Email denali414     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just received this cover and wondered the story behind it and how many. 250K+, wow that is a lot of space taken up. Came in a nice 8x11 foldout with the three cancellations and the extra "Space Mail Orbited Via STS-8." #189,501

Thanks for the post and information!


Posts: 98
From: UK
Registered: Aug 2013

posted 02-28-2018 02:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 18blue78     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've just picked up one of these STS-8 covers myself. They are a great way to add flown items to a collection.

I know of the covers flown on the Apollo missions but I was wondering if there is a definitive list of missions that officially flew covers? After a very brief search the only similar items I can find are the stamps, flown on STS-68, for the "A Tribute to Space Exploration" covers.

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