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  Gemini-era autograph requests mailed to NASA

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Author Topic:   Gemini-era autograph requests mailed to NASA
Ken Havekotte
Member

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

posted 01-28-2014 07:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
During my weekly file cabinet organizations and research examinations of aerospace literature, I came across an interesting topic that I don't recall seeing beforehand.

Looking inside a special edition of NASA's Roundup newsletter for Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) workers, "Gemini... Teamwork in Action," published in Dec. 1966 after the last Gemini flew the month before, is an interesting article about the Astronaut Office of the MSC's Flight Crew Support Division. From the article:

An average of some 20,000 autograph and photograph requests are answered each month by the astronaut mail room.
WOW!!! Also, "Speaking engagements and public appearances during the Gemini program (1964-66) totaled 947, and some 125,000 pieces of incoming correspondence were processed."

It would certainly appear that signature requests of the Mercury and Gemini astronauts were indeed more numerous than many first thought and quite active during the mid-1960s.

But why do we hardly see any Gemini crew-signed photographs from this era? Even crew-signed pictures of the Gemini flight teams with autopen signatures are few and far in between.

With an average of 20,000 signature and photograph requests each month, for those autographs provided, just where are they now, both hand-signed and/or autopen applied?

Hart Sastrowardoyo
Member

Posts: 2366
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 01-28-2014 08:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just a SWAG: Mercury was the pioneering program, and you only needed one signature for a crew completion. Apollo was the moon landing program. Could it be that Gemini signed photos simply weren't kept because they came in between the two programs?

Mike Dixon
Member

Posts: 792
From: Kew, Victoria, Australia
Registered: May 2003

posted 01-28-2014 08:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ken Havekotte:
With an average of 20,000 signature and photograph requests each month, for those autographs provided, just where are they now, both hand-signed and/or autopen applied?
Good question Ken. As far as complete crew autopens are concerned, Geminis 5 / 6 / 8 / 9 / 11 and 12 aren't all that difficult (with perseverance and commitment) to track down. Gemini 10 could present a challenge.

That leaves Gemini 3 / 4 and 7. I've never seen a complete crew a/p for the first two and only once have I come across a Gemini 7 that included Ed White's "signature".

In fact, Gemini 3 and Gemini 4 are the only crew autopens I don't have across the entire history of US space flight.

I've witnessed many of the Gemini autopens bring extraordinary prices (e.g. a Gemini 8 litho on eBay with all four "sigs" and disclosed as an autopen over $200), so clearly there's a strong market for them.

That's just my experience, but I don't have any doubts that the Gemini program autopens are far harder to find than any crews for Mercury, Apollo, Skylab and the shuttle.

All that said, I suspect a more than fair percentage of those 20,000 requests would have been directed to individual astronaut portraits as opposed to crews.

Nonetheless, a very interesting topic and thanks for raising it.

mjanovec
Member

Posts: 3622
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 02-05-2014 05:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ken Havekotte:
But why do we hardly see any Gemini crew-signed photographs from this era? Even crew-signed pictures of the Gemini flight teams with autopen signatures are few and far in between.

I wonder if complete crew signatures were not yet in high demand from collectors at this point of the space program. Perhaps most autograph requests were for still focused on individual astronauts.

With the Gemini program only lasting two years (for the period in which manned flights were taking place), it was over and done with fairly quickly. It appears that the general public forgot about Gemini once the Apollo flights started and that any efforts to collect "complete" crew signatures over the next several decades were mainly focused on Apollo, not Gemini.

In many ways, I think Gemini was the most adventurous of the 60s space programs...and broke the most ground. It's a shame that it's largely overlooked today.

X-Plane Fan
Member

Posts: 127
From: CA, USA
Registered: Jul 2007

posted 02-12-2014 09:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for X-Plane Fan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Mike Dixon:
In fact, Gemini 3 and Gemini 4 are the only crew autopens I don't have across the entire history of US space flight.
Ironically, the only a/p in my collection just happens to be for Gemini 3.

Mike Dixon
Member

Posts: 792
From: Kew, Victoria, Australia
Registered: May 2003

posted 02-12-2014 09:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by X-Plane Fan:
Ironically, the only a/p in my collection just happens to be for Gemini 3.
That'd be right. Always the way, isn't it?

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