ISS: CARGO SHIPS

Supplying the ISS has become a good share of the astrophilately related to International Space Station. Five independent programs have been run to fulfil this task with four remaining presently. I would not dive into details of each (this info is widely available to the curious reader) but rather show and explain my experience with astrophilately side.

At the beginning that was “Progress”. A workhorse of the Soviet and then Russian space program making first flight to Salyut 6 in January 1978 and being modified over the years but still remains a cargo version of Soyuz spacecraft developed by RKK Energia. There were four types of Progress ships that supplied ISS – Progress M, Progress M1 and Progress M-M and Progress MS. By mid 2017 there has been 68 launches of Progress cargo spaceships towards ISS.

In 2008 ESA Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) joined the party having almost three times Progress cargo capacity. After performing only five missions it has been discontinued in 2014. Despite such a short carrier ATV left the brightest trace in the astrophilately from all the programs - five colorful cover folders were produced by EADS / ASRIUM / AIRBUS including flown cover and many other cachets from different clubs and cachet makers.

 

Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) made its first flight in 2009 and despite its six missions remained one of the least astrophilatelically covered ventures. Two commercial programs originated by NASA in USA – SpaceX Dragon and Orbital Sciences Cygnus, both having similar cargo capacity of 3500 kg first launched to ISS 2012 and 2013 respectively. Dragon is a reusable spacecraft capable of delivering cargos from ISS to Earth including letters.

The Progress M variation capable of carrying 2.350 kg of cargo and introduced in 1989 made 24 cargo flights to ISS between 2001 and 2009 with Progress M-67 being the last one. Progress M1 has been redesigned to double the volume of the fuel delivered to ISS within the same overall cargo capacity as M version. It made only 8 flights from M1-3 to M1-11 in 2004. In 2008 Progress M-1M was launched that mainly differed by totally redesigned spaceship management system and in 2015 appeared Progress MS with another equipment upgrade.

In terms of cachets and postmarks, mainly the cachets produced by Oleg Urusov from Baikonur though some other designs available as well like shown Lollini and Chizhov. Postmarks are Baikonur, Korolev and Houston, the later plays a secondary role in Progress operations.  

Progress M1-4
Progress M1-4
Progress M1-7
Progress M1-7
Progress M1-9
Progress M1-9
Progress M-47
Progress M-47
Progress M1-10
Progress M1-10
Progress M1-10
Progress M1-10
Progress M1-11
Progress M1-11
Progress  M1-11
Progress M1-11
Progress M1-11
Progress M1-11

Lollini cover

Progress M1-11
Progress M1-11
Progress M-62
Progress M-62
Progress M-64
Progress M-64
Progress M-66
Progress M-66

Sergey Chizhov cachet

Progress M-66
Progress M-66

Sergey Chizhov cachet

Progress M-66
Progress M-66
Progress M-08M
Progress M-08M
Progress M-09M
Progress M-09M
Progress M-26M
Progress M-26M

After the retirement of the Shuttle, the role of ATV has become crucial for supporting ISS activities which now rely on the essential supplies carried by the European ATV, the Japanese HTV and the old Russian Progress, with its one third of the load capacity of ATV.

 

Since its first flight, ATV-1 Jules Verne has become a subject for collectors.

The French philatelic Club “La Marianne” (EADS Astrium – France) has issued 4 commemorative covers – offered in a colorful folder printed in a huge number of 1200 pcs that is not common for a specific commemorative set. Other dealers like Michel Vasse (French Guiana based servicer and dealer) and Alexander Lollini produced dedicated covers as well but in much less quantities like 300-400 pcs. Some covers were issued in even smaller numbers.

As a contribution to Space Mail collectors community, ATV-1 delivered to ISS a special protective CTB (Cargo Transfer Bag) containing 1200 covers prepared by the French Club “La Marianne” and 550 cards prepared by the German Club “Erno-Philatelie” (EADS-Astrium, Bremen). 25 covers were marked onboard with the ISS octagonal seal and autographed by the Russian Cosmonauts Sergey Volkov and Oleg Kononenko. All the items were stored in the Leonardo MPLM (Multipurpose Logistic Module) and returned to Earth on November 30, 2008, on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-126 mission which landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The CTB, as a non-priority cargo, was recovered from Leonardo on February 4, 2009 and the covers were postmarked at the KSC Post Office.

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Noordwijk, Netherlands ESTEC Test Center

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Kourou, Guiana - launch Galilot station - tracking

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Toulouse, France - docking

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Landres, France - tracking DGA missile test range

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

CTB flown cover EADS-Astrium

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

CTB flown card ERNO

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

ATV-1 transported to French Guyana by MN Toucan

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Hoyerswerda, Germany - 2004 start of testing in ESTEC

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Longueau, France ATV-1 special postmark

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Longueau, France ATV-1 special postmark

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Longueau, France - docking ATV-1 special postmark

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Kourou, Guiana - docking Lollini postcard

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Korolev - docking

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Star City - docking ERNO club cover

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Kourou, Guiana - launch Snecma club cover

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Historiaphil cover

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Kourou, Guiana - launch

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Kourou, Guiana - ATV arrival Michel Vasse cover

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Kourou, Guiana - docking Michel Vasse cover

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Kourou, Guiana - undocking Michel Vasse cover

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Kourou, Guiana - reentry Michel Vasse cover

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Picardie, France - exhibition From Jules Verne to Planet Mars

ATV-1 Jules Verne
ATV-1 Jules Verne

Picardie, France - exhibition From Jules Verne to Planet Mars

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler launched Feb 16, 2011 was marked by another colorful creation of “La Marianne” club. This time the folder contained 3 covers and totaled only a half of ATV-1 Jules Verne commemoratives – 600 pcs. Two commemorative covers were issued by “La Marianne” to celebrate launch and docking and the third one in the folder was flown in the CTB.

Like ATV-1, ATV-2 also carried to the ISS philatelic items: 600 covers prepared by “La Marianne”, 550 cards prepared by “Erno-Philatelie” and 600 covers prepared by Thales Alenia Space. 153 covers marked with the octagonal ISS onboard stamp and to have them signed by all the Expedition 26-27 crew.

Additional covers were produced including the one issued by “La Marianne” having special ATV-2 cachet and personalized stamp.

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

Kourou, Guiana - launch Snecma club cover

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

Finistere, France - tracking DGA missile test range

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

Toulouse, France - docking

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

Toulouse, France - undocking

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

CTB flown cover EADS Astrium

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

CTB flown card ERNO

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

Korolev - launch

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

Korolev - docking

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

Arianespace club launch cachet and cancellation

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

Kourou, Guiana - launch Lollini cover

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

Historiaphil cover

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

Kourou, Guiana - launch Lollini cover

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

Kourou, Guiana - launch Michel Vasse cover

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

Kourou, Guiana Michel Vasse cover

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

Galliot station - tracking Michel Vasse cover

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

nice hand drawing cachet Michel Vasse cover

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

Kourou, Guiana - docking Michel Vasse cover

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

Kourou, Guiana - undocking Michel Vasse cover

ATV-2 Johannes Kepler
ATV-2 Johannes Kepler

Kourou, Guiana - reentry Michel Vasse cover

ATV-3 Adorado Amaldi flown to ISS covers were taken back by a recoverable capsule of SpaceX Dragon CRS-1 that splashed down in Pacific on Oct 28, 2012. The CTB flown 400 covers of “La Marianne” club were postmarked in Houston on Nov 2, 2012. Another 14 covers were postmarked on ISS and signed by the crew.

ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi
ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi

Kourou, Guiana - launch Snecma club cover

ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi
ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi

Redu station, Belgium - tracking

ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi
ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi

Toulouse, France - docking

ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi
ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi

Toulouse, France - undocking

ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi
ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi

CTB flown cover EADS Astrium

ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi
ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi

CTB flown card ERNO

ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi
ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi

Gallion station, Kourou - tracking Michel Vasse cover

ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi
ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi

Historiaphil cover

ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi
ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi

Kourou, Guiana - docking Michel Vasse cover

ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi
ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi

Korolev - docking

ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi
ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi

Houston - docking

ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi
ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi

Houston - undocking

ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi
ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi

Libreville, Gabon - tracking Lollini cover

ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi
ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi

Kourou, Guiana - launch Lollini cover

ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi
ATV-3 Edorado Amaldi

Kourou, Guiana - launch Lollini cover

ATV-4 Albert Einstein
ATV-4 Albert Einstein

Kourou, Guiana - launch Galliot station - tracking

ATV-4 Albert Einstein
ATV-4 Albert Einstein

Toulouse, France - docking

ATV-4 Albert Einstein
ATV-4 Albert Einstein

Toulouse, France - undocking

ATV-4 Albert Einstein
ATV-4 Albert Einstein

CTB flown cover EADS Astrium

ATV-4 Albert Einstein
ATV-4 Albert Einstein

CTB flown card ERNO

ATV-4 Albert Einstein
ATV-4 Albert Einstein

Lollini combo cover launch and tracking facilities

ATV-4 Albert Einstein
ATV-4 Albert Einstein

Wessling, Germany - launch German Aerospace Center

ATV-4 Albert Einstein
ATV-4 Albert Einstein

Wessling, Germany - docking German Aerospace Center

ATV-4 Albert Einstein
ATV-4 Albert Einstein

Arianespace club launch cachet and cancellation

ATV-4 Albert Einstein
ATV-4 Albert Einstein

Historiaphil cover

ATV-4 Albert Einstein
ATV-4 Albert Einstein

Libreville, Gabon - tracking Lollini cover

ATV-4 Albert Einstein
ATV-4 Albert Einstein

Kourou, Guiana - launch Lollini cover

ATV-4 Albert Einstein
ATV-4 Albert Einstein

Kourou, Guiana - launch Snecma club cover

ATV-4 Albert Einstein
ATV-4 Albert Einstein

Kourou, Guiana - launch Michel Vasse cover

ATV-4 Albert Einstein
ATV-4 Albert Einstein

Houston - undocking

ATV-4 Albert Einstein
ATV-4 Albert Einstein

Houston - deorbit

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre launched July 30, 2014 was the fifth and the last ATV mission before program closure. ARBUS prepared 400 colorful folders with 6 covers each, this time including Australian tracking station in Perth and Adelaide. As during previous missions, CTB with 400 covers was carried aboard ISS and recovered by Dragon CRS-5. These folders are scarce to find and can cost good money to obtain.

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Kourou, Guiana - launch Galliot station - tracking

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Adelaide, Australia - tracking

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Perth, Australia - tracking

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Toulouse, France - docking

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Toulouse, France - undocking

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

CTB flown cover EADS Astrium

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

CTB flown card ERNO

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Lollini launch combo cover launch and tracking facilities

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Kourou - launch Snecma club cover

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Kourou - launch Michel Vasse cover

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Michel Vasse cover backside

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Galliot, Kourou - tracking Michel Vasse cover

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Kourou - docking Michel Vasse cover

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Historiaphil cover

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Libreville, Gabon - tracking Lollini cover

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Kourou - launch Lollini cover

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Kourou - launch Lollini cover

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Arianespace club launch cachet and cancellation

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Biberpost, Germany

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Robert Keller private postmark

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Biberpost, Germany

ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre
ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre

Houston - docking

Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) Kounotori is an automated cargo spacecraft used to supply Kibo Japanese Experiment Module (JEM). HTV is capable of carrying up-to 6000 of payload but unlike ATV or Progress cannot dock automatically and demand crew operations. Since its first flight in 2009 only six missions were made by Kounotori.

The covers dedicated to HTV are scarce (of cause there others around bearing non-relevant postmarks but I do not refer to them). Each HTV flight got less than 10 dedicated covers postmarked on ISS this is one example I am lucky to have in my collection – HTV-4 signed by ISS 36.

JAXA HTV-5
JAXA HTV-5

1st Phase maneuver

JAXA HTV-5
JAXA HTV-5

deorbiting

SpaceX Falcon 9
SpaceX Falcon 9

1st launch

SpaceX Falcon 9
SpaceX Falcon 9

1st launch

SpaceX Dragon COTS-1
SpaceX Dragon COTS-1

demo launch

Dragon C2+
Dragon C2+

SpaceX COTS Demo Flight 2

Dragon C2+
Dragon C2+

SpaceX COTS Demo Flight 2

Dragon C2+
Dragon C2+

SpaceX COTS Demo Flight 2

Dragon C2+
Dragon C2+

SpaceX COTS Demo Flight 2

Dragon C2+
Dragon C2+

Korolev

Dragon C2+
Dragon C2+

SpaceX COTS Demo Flight 2

SpaceX Dragon CRS-1
SpaceX Dragon CRS-1

launch

SpaceX Dragon CRS-1
SpaceX Dragon CRS-1

launch

SpaceX Dragon CRS-1
SpaceX Dragon CRS-1

splashdown

SpaceX Dragon CRS-1
SpaceX Dragon CRS-1
SpaceX Dragon CRS-1
SpaceX Dragon CRS-1
SpaceX Dragon CRS-1
SpaceX Dragon CRS-1
SpaceX Dragon CRS-1
SpaceX Dragon CRS-1

Jim Roth is the author of the mission 57 Premium Space Covers brand. Hundreds of different issues of Jim's cachet-designed space covers were produced. He would design both sides of a space cover with some of the best colorful and graphically produced artwork creations that I have ever seen. Some of his cachets are numbered to be only 20-30 pieces created. Not very surprisingly the covers look much better in reality than scanned copes. These are one of the best space cachets I have ever seen placing them in a one row with Sergey Chizhov artworks and outstanding Therome cachets. I am proud to have some of Jim’s designs in my collection.

SpaceX Dragon CRS-2
SpaceX Dragon CRS-2
Cygnus Antares A-ONE
Cygnus Antares A-ONE
SpaceX Dragon CRS-2
SpaceX Dragon CRS-2
Cygnus Antares A-ONE
Cygnus Antares A-ONE
SpaceX Dragon CRS-2
SpaceX Dragon CRS-2
SpaceX Dragon CRS-2
SpaceX Dragon CRS-2
SpaceX Dragon CRS-2
SpaceX Dragon CRS-2
SpaceX Dragon CRS-2
SpaceX Dragon CRS-2
SpaceX Dragon CRS-2
SpaceX Dragon CRS-2
Antares A-ONE
Antares A-ONE

Cygnus Mass Simulator

Cygnus G. David Low
Cygnus G. David Low

Orb-D1 demo flight

Cygnus CRS Orb-1
Cygnus CRS Orb-1

Gordon Fullerton

Cygnus CRS Orb-1
Cygnus CRS Orb-1

Gordon Fullerton

SpaceX Dragon CRS-3
SpaceX Dragon CRS-3
SpaceX Dragon CRS-3
SpaceX Dragon CRS-3
SpaceX Dragon CRS-3
SpaceX Dragon CRS-3
SpaceX Dragon CRS-3
SpaceX Dragon CRS-3
Cygnus CRS Orb-2
Cygnus CRS Orb-2

Janice Voss

SpaceX Dragon CRS-4
SpaceX Dragon CRS-4
SpaceX Dragon CRS-4
SpaceX Dragon CRS-4
SpaceX Dragon CRS-4
SpaceX Dragon CRS-4
SpaceX Dragon CRS-4
SpaceX Dragon CRS-4
SpaceX Dragon CRS-5
SpaceX Dragon CRS-5
SpaceX Dragon CRS-5
SpaceX Dragon CRS-5
SpaceX Dragon CRS-5
SpaceX Dragon CRS-5
SpaceX Dragon CRS-5
SpaceX Dragon CRS-5
SpaceX Dragon CRS-5
SpaceX Dragon CRS-5

Two flown covers – one signed by ISS 42 crew and postmarked on Dragon CRS-5 docking and undocking dates - though the cover used was dedicated to CRS-6 mission. The other one is commemorating CRS-7 flight that actually failed during the launch. Signed, postmarked and inscribed by Gennady Padalka on the day the Dragon was lost – June 28, 2015.

SpaceX CRS-5
SpaceX CRS-5
SpaceX CRS-7
SpaceX CRS-7
SpaceX Dragon CRS-6
SpaceX Dragon CRS-6
SpaceX Dragon CRS-6
SpaceX Dragon CRS-6
SpaceX Dragon CRS-6
SpaceX Dragon CRS-6
SpaceX Dragon CRS-6
SpaceX Dragon CRS-6
SpaceX Dragon CRS-6
SpaceX Dragon CRS-6
SpaceX Dragon CRS-7
SpaceX Dragon CRS-7

failure

SpaceX Dragon CRS-7
SpaceX Dragon CRS-7

failure

Cygnus CRS OA-4
Cygnus CRS OA-4

Deke Slayton II

Cygnus CRS OA-6
Cygnus CRS OA-6

S.S. Rick Husband

Cygnus CRS OA-6
Cygnus CRS OA-6

S.S. Rick Husband

SpaceX Dragon CRS-8
SpaceX Dragon CRS-8
SpaceX Dragon CRS-8
SpaceX Dragon CRS-8
SpaceX Dragon CRS-8
SpaceX Dragon CRS-8
SpaceX Dragon CRS-8
SpaceX Dragon CRS-8
SpaceX Dragon CRS-8
SpaceX Dragon CRS-8
SpaceX Dragon CRS-9
SpaceX Dragon CRS-9
SpaceX Dragon CRS-9
SpaceX Dragon CRS-9
SpaceX Dragon CRS-9
SpaceX Dragon CRS-9
SpaceX Dragon CRS-10
SpaceX Dragon CRS-10