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  Space Cover 457: MIA Minnie Mouse

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 457: MIA Minnie Mouse
cvrlvr99
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Posts: 114
From: Arlington, TX
Registered: Aug 2014

posted 03-03-2018 08:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cvrlvr99   Click Here to Email cvrlvr99     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 457, March 4, 2018

Space Cover 457: MIA Minnie Mouse

When this cover appeared on eBay for $3, it looked to be just another missile test of a Thor Able 1. For whatever reason, probably because it was dated in 1958 (April 23) and I hadn't found anything else of interest, I looked up the date in McMahan's catalog.

I was surprised to see his listing:

Re-entry test, nose cone carried MIA-1 or "Minnie Mouse." The 2nd stage did not fire. The nose nor (sic) the mouse were recovered. The shot fell short of the 5,000 mile goal. EV $150.
Those surprises don't happen every day or week or month, but it is always fun to find one like this.

I added the Red Rubber Stamp reading "MIA Minnie Mouse" so that my heirs don't sell it for a couple of bucks.

Ken Havekotte
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Posts: 2586
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 03-05-2018 05:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great MIA cover find Ray! I have rarely seen any MIA (Mouse-In-Able) covers, but your find on the first MIA launch on April 23, 1958 on eBay is one of those rare occasions.

As you know, three MIAs were flown as part of Project Able from April to July 1958, each of which carried a mouse in a MIA package mounted in the nose cone of an Thor Able launch vehicle.

The first mouse, a female, was not instrumented since no telemetry was available for use in that flight. As Ray mentioned, the flight failed and the nose cone with passenger were never recovered.

But the second and third MIA flights were "flight successful" with MIA-2 on July 9, 1958, carrying another female mouse, this one named Laska.

A third and final MIA launch occurred two weeks later on July 23 carrying a male mouse named Benji.

There is every reason to believe that both Laska and Benji would had been recovered alive after their epic space voyages if their "Mouse House" nose cones had been retrieved from their ocean landings. Unfortunately, though, after a few days of searching for the nose cones, they could not be found.

At the time in 1958, since both mice flew to a maximum altitude of 1400 statute miles, they returned to Earth from a higher altitude than that reached by any other living organism.

For space cover collectors, there were telemetry stations at several points along the flight paths. Heart beat signals of Laska and Benji were recorded at the Cape, Antigua, and on a couple of search ships on station for both of the last two instrumented flights.

Bob M
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Posts: 1684
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 03-06-2018 08:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great cover, Ray, and very interesting and appreciated information on this little-known early test series (MIA), Ken. It got me to bring out my excellent book by Colin Burgess, "Animals in Space, From Research Rockets to the Space Shuttle", and reading about the mouse flights that didn't end well for the mice, but was an important step in putting astronauts safely in space.

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 2586
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 03-06-2018 02:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are two more "mice-related" space covers, one of which is the same as Ray's depiction above, but I did locate, right next to it, a similar cover.

The second cover, again with a Finney/ Nickel rubber stamp cachet, has a PAFB launch day cancel of Oct. 13, 1960, for an Atlas IV (Atlas #71D) suborbital flight test carrying three black mice. It was the first Atlas-related biological spaceflight and all three mice (named Sally, Amy, and Moe) were retrieved from the nose cone near Ascension Island. After traveling about 5,000 miles down the Atlantic Missile Range, the mice passengers survived the 650-mile-high flight with a peak speed of 17,500 mph.

So both a Thor and Atlas were early launch vehicles that flew mice into space from the Cape! If I recall, there was a Sarzin cachet cover produced for the same Atlas flight, which I know I have one here somewhere (can anyone show it here)?

Apollo-Soyuz
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Posts: 1072
From: Shady Side, Md
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 03-06-2018 05:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo-Soyuz   Click Here to Email Apollo-Soyuz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wasn't there a mouse experiment on Apollo 17 and a cover serviced for the event? Ken Havekotte probably knows about this. I believe Don Schultz serviced a cover for this.

Ken Havekotte
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Posts: 2586
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 03-06-2018 07:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, John, there were five mice, nicknamed by the Apollo 17 crew as "Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum, and Phooey" that flew to the moon.

Known as the Apollo 17 pocket mouse experiment, it was a biomedical cosmic ray research study involving 4 male mice and 1 female mouse. They had been implanted with radiation monitors under their scalps for the nearly 2-week exposure study. After the flight, 4 of the 5 mice had survived.

I do know of at least two different cachet covers for the lunar mice event-coverage. Here is one.

Antoni RIGO
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Posts: 129
From: Palma de Mallorca, Is. Baleares - SPAIN
Registered: Aug 2013

posted 03-08-2018 01:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Antoni RIGO   Click Here to Email Antoni RIGO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very interesting cover. However, the same cover was already pictured in SCOTW 335. Unfortunately previous time this great cover did not deserve major attention.

Rats in space is one of my favorite topics.

As referred above in Oct. 13, 1960 three black mice flown aboard an Atlas IV rocket.

Here is the Sarzin cover quoted by Ken.

Both covers are identical except for the last figure in the year. Bottom cover is suspect to be manipulated and modified the number 1 into 0.

Antoni RIGO
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Posts: 129
From: Palma de Mallorca, Is. Baleares - SPAIN
Registered: Aug 2013

posted 03-08-2018 02:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Antoni RIGO   Click Here to Email Antoni RIGO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And other covers also dated Oct. 13, 1960.

First one postmarked PAFB, rest PC.

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 2586
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 03-08-2018 05:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Antoni for the Sarzin cover depiction and I have never seen the other three cover versions. The last one looks to be a later hand-painted artwork cachet that is certainly "in your face" so-to-speak with the rat trio images.

Bob M
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Posts: 1684
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 03-10-2018 02:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Antoni RIGO:
Rats in space is one of my favorite topics.
For someone interested in rats in space, Antoni, shuttle mission STS-51B was a very ratty flight, as 24 rats were aboard Challenger in Spacelab-3, along with 2 Squirrel Monkeys. 51B was only the second Shuttle flight with live animals aboard for scientific investigation.

Christopher Schatte was the Principle Investigator for this live animal research project and was kind enough to handle two covers of mine mailed to him.

As clearly indicated by him, one (above) of the two covers I sent to him was flown with the animals after landing at Dryden/Edwards AFB back to KSC. Also indicated by him was that the two covers were located in the Payload Operations Control Center (POCC) at JSC at the time of the 51B launch.

Mr./Dr. Schatte kindly included extra documentation that leaves no doubt that the cover was with the spaceflight-veteran astronaut rats on their trip back to KSC.

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 2586
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 03-10-2018 02:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Excellent, Bob, as I never knew you had any covers done for the Spacelab-3 animal flight delivery from DFRC to KSC after Shuttle Challenger's landing on Mission 51B.

As the cover indicates, it was originally located inside the POCC at JSC when Challenger and her Spacelab crew were launched. A wonderful "double" event with a "located inside" and "flown" cover event(s)!

But do you know, Bob, if the cover was flown back aboard Challenger's mid-deck section while attached to the Shuttle 747 SCA from Dryden to Kennedy? Or were the 24 rats and 2 monkeys off-loaded from their Shuttle Orbiter space home right after landing, while still at Dryden, and put aboard a NASA aircraft for a quicker return to Florida for their post-flight examination?

Bob M
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Posts: 1684
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 03-10-2018 02:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, Ken, it is an unusual located and flown combination cover and excellently verified by Christopher Schatte leaving no doubt as to what the cover experienced. Also as he explained, the other cover I sent was only located in the POCC/JSC at the time of the launch and I probably sent that cover to you.

I would think that the 26 animals were quickly off-loaded and flown back to KSC on a NASA aircraft, along with Mr. Schatte and the cover, to have them examined back at KSC where they were housed prior to their exciting spaceflight experience.

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 2586
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 03-10-2018 03:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Of course, Bob, that would have to be the case as the animals needed to be examined quickly after their week-long stay in space.

You know, Mission 51B was the first U.S. spaceflight fully-dedicated to life sciences research in microgravity and the first time that humans and monkeys had flown together in space.

Nice "double event" cover!

Bob M
Member

Posts: 1684
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 03-10-2018 03:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just got out my copy of "Animals in Space" by "our" Colin Burgess and learned that all 26 animals survived their spaceflight, although one of the monkeys got sick and worried the crew. But Bill Thornton's hand feeding got him back to normal again.

Unlike all the monkeys that flew on previous US spaceflights, these two STS-51B space monkeys, along with the 24 space rats, were not named and only had serial numbers.

As explained in Colin's book, the crew chose not to even give the monkeys unofficial names themselves, as they had become quite famous space travelers and if one had died during the flight, they didn't want to break the news that "Bubba" had died. Instead they just referred to them as "Monkey #1 and Monkey #2.

cvrlvr99
Member

Posts: 114
From: Arlington, TX
Registered: Aug 2014

posted 03-12-2018 04:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cvrlvr99   Click Here to Email cvrlvr99     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On the two Sally, Amy, Moe covers with the year slug "1961" covered to appear as"1960" there is one other major difference. The red ink showing the 3 mice was turned by 45% making it very easy to tell the doctored one from the original I have both in my exhibit.

Eddie Bizub
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Posts: 46
From: Kissimmee, FL USA
Registered: Aug 2010

posted 03-12-2018 07:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Eddie Bizub   Click Here to Email Eddie Bizub     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I picked up this MIA Minnie Mouse cover about 15 years ago from the collection of Richard Learn. It has an H. Flick cachet.

I have no idea why it says that it is related to the Vanguard program. It might just be that this was a very early launch and there was very little information about these launches at the time.

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 2586
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 03-12-2018 08:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An interesting Flick cachet, Eddie, for the Thor Able launch of MIA-1 in 1958 that I have not seen before.

I think the cachet's reference to "First Thor-Vanguard" may refer to the 2nd stage of the Vanguard satellite launch vehicle carrier.

At the time during the late 1950's, both the 2nd stages of the Vanguard and Thor Able vehicles had just about the same exact upper stage sharing the same AJ10
propulsion system.

All times are CT (US)

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