Space Exploration

1999 33¢ Celebrate the Century - 1950s: U.S. Launches Satellites
January 31, 1958

Launch of Explorer I 

Late in the evening of January 31, 1958, the US launched its first satellite, Explorer I. It was an important milestone in America’s space race with the Soviet Union.

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1969 6¢ Apollo 8 Moon Orbit
December 21, 1968

Launch of Apollo 8 

On December 21, 1968, Apollo 8 launched from Kennedy Space Center. It was the second manned spaceflight mission in the Apollo program, and the first to leave low Earth orbit, travel around the moon and safely return to Earth.  It was also the first human spaceflight launched from Kennedy Space Center.

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2011 44¢ Mercury Project
November 18, 1923

Birth of Alan Shepard

Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr was born on November 18, 1923, in Derry, New Hampshire. He was the first American (second person after Yuri Gagarin) to travel into space and the fifth person to walk on the Moon.

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1999 33¢ Celebrate the Century - 1960s: Star Trek
September 8, 1966

Star Trek Premieres 

On September 8, 1966, the first episode of Star Trek premiered on television.  While the original series only lasted three seasons, it developed a cult following, leading to movies, several new series, comics, games, and more.

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2000 33¢ Celebrate the Century - 1980s: Space Shuttle Program
August 30, 1984

First Launch of Space Shuttle Discovery 

On August 30, 1984, the Space Shuttle Discovery made its first launch into space, two months later than initially planned.  It would go on to make more flights than any other shuttle in its fleet. 

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1991 29¢ Space Exploration: Moon
August 23, 1966

First Photo of Earth Taken from the Moon

On August 23, 1966, Lunar Orbiter I captured the first images of our planet from the vicinity of the Moon.  Photographing Earth wasn’t the mission.  It wasn’t even considered until the craft was out in space.

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1991 29¢ Space Exploration: Pluto stamp
January 19, 2006

Launch of New Horizons Probe

On January 19, 2006, the New Horizons interplanetary space probe was launched on a mission that included studying Pluto. The mission was inspired in part a postage stamp!

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1962 4¢ Project Mercury stamp
October 29, 1998

John Glenn Returns to Space 

On October 29, 1998, John Glenn returned to space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. At the age of 77, he was the oldest person to go into space.

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1983 $9.35 Eagle and Moon, booklet single
August 30, 1983

Challenger Carries Covers to Space

On August 30, 1983, the space shuttle Challenger blasted off on its third mission to space. The shuttle carried special cargo – commemorative covers bearing the new Express Mail Next Day Service stamp.

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