Stamp Profile25th anniversary US manned space flightsAscensionIssue Date: 30/03/1987Designer David Hartley The first liquid-fuel rocket flight in modern times lasted 2.5 seconds. The distance travelled was 40 ft. Robert Goddard, who masterminded the project could hardly have imagined that within forty years mighty Atlas, Titan and Saturn rockets would be capable of taking men and machinery into space and even to the moon. Germany's grasp of rocket technology was apparent during the Second World War with the advent of the formidable V1 and V2 weapons. They were to provide the starting point for both American and Russian research in the late 40s and 50s. (Teams of German scientists had chosen to work for both sides). The Russians scored an historic triumph in the so-called 'Space Race' when in April 1961 they succeeded in putting Yuri Gagarin into space for the first manned flight. At this stage America was able to boast the achievements of chimponauts 'Ham' and 'Miss Sam'. President Kennedy, searching for an adequate response was to commit America to the first moon landing: an 'exciting, impressive, difficult and expensive' venture to achieve. Later in the year Titov on Vostok 2 made 17 orbits of the earth. On the American side Alan Shepard made a first little 'hop' into space but then after nine months or so of frantic activity NASA was ready for John Glenn to ride Mercury Mission MAG. It was absolutely vital for national prestige that Glenn succeeds. On 20 February an Atlas rocket put 'Friendship 7' (as the capsule was called) into space in a few minutes. Separating from the rocket, America's first orbiting astronaut settled down to controlling his capsule. The plan was for Glenn to circle the earth three times. On the second orbit a signal was picked up indicating that the landing bag and aft heat shield had been damaged and would probably be torn off whilst entering the atmosphere. With a re-entry temperature of around 3000 0 F Glenn and Friendship 7 would be incinerated without complete protection. Ground control advised Glenn to check the switch and ensure that when it was time to fire the retro-rockets to come home, that the retropack be left on, thereby holding the aft-shield in place. By the time that it had burnt away atmospheric pressure would hold the shield down. Glenn reported chunks of pack hurtling by but was kept in the dark about Cape Canaveral's worst fears. Upon splashdown a helicopter picked up John Glenn from USS Noa. Astronaut John Glenn got a hero's welcome, a ticker-tape parade in New York and undertook a global tour to advertise American technology. Released on 30 March 1987 was a set of five stamps commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the First American Earth Orbit. Designed by David Hartley, the designs are: l5p -Ignition, 18p - Lift-off, 25p - Re-entry, £1 - Splash Down, 70p - "Friendship 7" Capsule - This souvenir sheet also bears Flight Data and The Earth, showing locations of Blast-Off and Splashdown. Astrophysics StampsSwedenThe 1987 Nobel issue honoured six Nobel Laureates who made important discoveries in the field of astrophysics. The first stamp featured the pulsars discovered by Antony Hewish in 1967. The pulses come from the radiation emitted by charged particles circling around neutron stars. The second stamp shows the Chandrasekhar mass. The greatest mass a white dwarf star can have. If the mass increases, the star collapses into a neutron star or a black hole. William Fowler has studied the nuclear reactions vital for the formation of chemical elements In the Universe. The third stamp illustrates the construction of heavy atom nuclei: neutrons merge with slightly lighter nuclei, It is this chemical element synthesis which has made life possible, The fourth stamp honours Penzias and Wilson who discovered the so called cosmic background radiation resulting from the 'big Bang' theory of the creation of the Universe. Martin Ryle developed the aperture synthesis method using several coordinated telescopes in order to get the same result as with just one very big telescope. The method is symbolised in the last stamp by two radio telescopes simultaneously receiving radio waves from a galaxy. (Article kindly supplied by the Swedish Post Office.)
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