“Cosmonautics Day” Issues – Russian Policy Changes Deduced
Alexander Kapitanov and Jeff Dugdale
Until recent years space stamp collectors could rely on the Soviet/Russian authorities to provide material for their collections on or about the 12th April – Cosmonautics Day. but in the early 90s there appears to have been a change in issuing policy with some years having no issue at all and this year no stamp but two airmail letters instead.
The first Soviet issue to bear the words “12 April – Cosmonautics Day” occurred in 1963 with a narrow se-tenant strip of three stamps marking Sputnik 1. Vostok 1 and a rocket aimed at the Sun (SG 2843/5) and every year thereafter at least one stamp marking a manned or unmanned Soviet achievement has been issued.
In 1989 there was the unusual issue of a single triangular stamp (SG5988) beautifully designed showing two cosmonauts Spacewalking around MIR. Curiously – no doubt through artistic licence – it showed no ferry craft at MIR at all! In 1990 SG 6129 completely fancifully showed a cosmonaut on the new Soviet Space cycle (SPK unit) several miles (and therefore untethered !) away from the MIR complex. As the “CCCP Post” legend gave way to “Russia” on stamps there was no Cosmonautics Day issue in 1991 or 1992, though there were issues that might have been so christened e.g. the ’92 “Space Exploration” block showing Glavkosmos and NASA spacemen reaching out to each other over examples of Soviet/American cooperation space. (A similar quartet was issued by the U.S.)
In 1993, five values and a miniature sheet were issued on 12th April but with the theme of “Space Communications” The stamps featured communications satellites elaborated and prepared for exploitation at the applied mechanics research and production association in Krashoyark (Siberian region): 25rbl – MOLNIYA-3, 45rbl – EKRAN-M. 50rbl – GORIZONT. 75rbl – LUCH. lOOrbl – EXPRESS with the 250rbl MS showing a scheme of the multi-functional communications system on the basis of the LUCH (“lightning”) space vehicle.
1994 saw three values issued on 12th April, all devoted to Soyuz and MIR and equipment at the Yuri Gagarin Centre for Cosmonaut training (founded in 1960) in Star City – Zvyozdny Gorodok. These stamps continue to feature on covers issued throughout last year and this.
In 1995 there were issued only two pre-stamped envelopes to mark Cosmonautics Day and the Philatelic Exhibition “To The Stars !” If you are interested in postal stationery such as the two items illustrated opposite, do write to Alexander Kapitanov (P.O. Box 19. Nalchik 360051. Russia) who will be delighted to assist. Also issued in 1995 was another beautifully designed block (4 % 1,500 roubles) to mark the Atlantis-MIR event.
Perhaps then we have seen the end of regular “Cosmonautics Day” issues?