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A Cover that made a round trip


Baikonur Cosmodrome – Mir Space Station – Dzheskasgan.

I have many nice space covers in my collection, and even a few covers flown in space, but this one I obtained is certainly the most cherished amongst them. The reason is: I saw it travelling in space!

In 1992, I had a unique occasion. As a journalist, I was able to witness the launch of my compatriot, German cosmonaut Klaus—Dietrich Flade, on location. With a little help from my friends, I travelled to Baikonur Cosmodrome in the steppe of Kazakhstran and saw Soyuz TM 14 roaring into space from a distance of only half a mile.

The day before the launch, the crew and their backups gave a press conference to introduce themselves to the press. Seated behind a glass wall to protect them against microbes and other tiny beasts that could cause them trouble during the flight, all 6 cosmonauts explained about their mission, their feelings and their careers to a crowded bunch of about 80 journalists. My Moscow based friend had already taken arrangements to help me get one of my space covers on board. 

Immediately after the end of the press conference, he hurried me to give him the cover we had already prepared. He passed it to one of the aids, who then passed it on to the mission commander, Alexander Victorenko. Victorenko would then carry it with him when he climbed upon the capsule, hidden some place in his space suit, my friend promised me. I didn’t really believe it, but I thought it would be worth a try.

You bet it was a thrilling surprise when I met my friend again now in January, and he bought me that very cover I had passed on to him about 10 months ago. It had indeed travelled to space and returned to me safely, what a gem it was: there was not only the Russian and German bordcancel used on board, there were all three space station MIR bordcancels that should be there: the datestamp carrying the date of landing of Soyuz TM 13 (returning Alexander Volkov, Sergei Krikalyov and Klaus—Dietrich Flade to earth) and the two pentagonal and octagonal date stamps. 

The other, rectangular, postmarker, however, is a private rubber stamp cachet applied on the ground by a local collector. All five cosmonauts onboard MIR autographed it: Soyuz TM 14 crew members Alexander Victorenko, Alexander Kaleri and Klaus—Dietrich Flade as well as the residence crew Alexander Volkov and Sergei Krikalyov.

Jurgen Peters Esders


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