A Sensation: Space Mail from MIR
The sensation of Europe’s largest Philatelic event; the International Messe-Essen in West Germany held between April 14 – 17, 1988 was the launching of Space Mail from the USSR Space Station MIR (meaning Peace). The well known stamp dealer H.E. Sieger from West Germany – famous for his Apollo 15 letters which were cancelled on the moon – did it again. This time with the Soviets!
He managed to get 1000 covers on board the Mir station, which were cancelled in space and were transported back to earth at the end of 1987 by cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko, with 326 days in space the record holder.
There are 1000 of these covers (numbered) plus 38 covers (not numbered) but with the imprint “Not for sale”. These 38 covers were for cosmonauts and VIP’s. The picture below is cover No.0884, and is, as all the others, prepared, cancelled and signed as follows:
1: The 10 kop. USSR postage stamp commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the launching of Sputnik affixed.
2: A special postal cancellation commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the launching of Sputnik has been applied at the Moscow General Post Office with the date of October 4, 1987.
3: A special postal cancellation of the Baikonur Cosmodrome post office has been applied with the date of November 21, 1987, commemorating the launching of the Progress-33 cargo spacecraft with the covers on board. (Progress is pictured in the cancellation).
4: A special commemorative cancellation has been effected in space by the Russian cosmonauts Yu.V. Romanenko and A.P. Alexandrov on board the Mir orbital manned complex (cancel is in violet colour).
5: On December 29, 1987 at the Post Office in Arkalyk a special postal cancellation was applied commemorating the safe landing of the Soyuz TM-3 spacecraft with the covers aboard (see capsule on parachute in the cancel).
6: The Russian Cosmonauts Romanenko and Alexandrov both signed each of the 1000 covers in space on board the Mir orbital manned complex.
7: The Chairman of the USSR Glavkosmos Prof. A.I. Dunaev signed each of the 1000 covers as well. This certificate of authenticity is at the back of the cover.
8: Each envelope is addressed to the crew of Mir. There also is a certificate of authenticity from A.Ya. Belostotsky, Deputy General Director of Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga, the International book and stamp firm of the USSR authorities.
For each buyer of this Space Mail there is a video cassette which shows on film every step in the “birth” of the Mir cover: cancellations in Moscow and Baikonur, the launch of Progress, the post office in the Mir station and the landing and cancellation in Arkalyk.
By Bert van Eijck
Below: The front and back of a cover.