Airmail Labels – Space-thematic etiquettes


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Airmail label to celebrate 50 years of Sputnik

The etiquettes have appropriate illustrations and are imperforate on gummed paper; the computerized realizations were achieved by Eve Archer, wife of Jeff Dugdale, who edits the ASSS’s journal ORBIT.


Fifteen Years of Hubble

This airmail label by John Berry is now available from the Astro Space Stamp Society. If you would like a sheet or two please email at the address below for more information.


John Berry, the owner of an outstanding collection of Space thematic stamps and especially covers, has designed etiquettes that celebrate 2001 space commemorations – Vostok 1 and Yuri Gagarin (first man in space, 1961), Alan B Shepard (first US Spaceman in orbit, 1961), 20 years of the shuttle (1981), and first Briton in Space Helen Sharman OBE (1991).

Vostok 1 and Yuri Gagarin – First man in space 1961 – 2001

After many days of rumours about the impending launch of a Russian into space, the first manned space flight began on 12 April 1961. The spaceman was a Russian, Major Yuri Gagarin, and not an American, who was also preparing for a flight, and this proved to be an important factor in dictating the future direction of man in space for many years.

Gagarin had no control over the spacecraft during his flight and spent most of the time sightseeing and reporting how comfortable he felt in weightlessness. Gagarin came through it all unscathed and the Vostok 1 capsule landed in a cowfield, while the cosmonaut touched down separately by parachute, having ejected at a height of 22,000 ft, a fact not admitted by the Russians until 1978.

Alan B Shepard – First US Spaceman in orbit 1961 – 2001

Cdr Alan Shepard’s flight in a Mercury capsule was not an orbital one but a planned ballistic lob to a height of 116 miles, ending with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.

After a 4h 14min wait inside the tiny capsule, during which he was compelled to answer the call of nature in his spacesuit, Shepard soared into space, enduring acceleration forces of 11g.

He was weightless for nearly 5 minutes during which time he orientated the craft using gas thrusters, the first spaceman to do so. Shepard only saw the view out of his periscope – and never out of his porthole. The retro rockets which were not needed on this ballistic flight, were test fired all the same and Shepard came down 297 miles from Cape Canaveral to be recovered by a helicopter from the USS Lake Champlain.

Twenty years of the shuttle 1981 – 2001

The long-awaited maiden flight of the space shuttle Columbia, delayed for over two years, was a remarkable success. The sight of a spaceship returning to Earth like an airliner captured the imagination of the world and opened a new era of space commercialization for America.

Tiles that fell from Columbia during launch, a loss witnessed by television viewers when the craft had achieved orbit, marred the flight, not because it was a critical situation but because the popular press, eager to knock the shuttle which had many critics at this time, made such a fuss of it.

Helen Sharman – First Briton in Space 1991 – 2001

In June 1989 Helen was driving home from work at Mars Confectionery Ltd when she heard a radio advertisement. While she waited for the traffic lights to change she jotted down the number. The commercial said, “Astronaut Wanted – No experience needed.” It proved to be the moment that was to change her life.

Helen underwent extensive preparations for coping with weightlessness, living in a cramped environment, survival procedures and learning to pilot rocket systems, as well as handling scientific experiments in space. Her reward was to be selected as the principle choice to journey into space in May 1991, and so to become Britain’s First Astronaut, experiencing travel at over 18,000 MPH and orbiting the earth up to sixteen times a day for the eight day scientific mission.