First around Earth

The first satellite was a very primitive body with almost no instrumentation. Khrushchev ordered to launch a more complex machine by November 1957 – towards the 40th anniversary of October Revolution (many things in USSR were done towards communist anniversaries like Lenin birthdays or October Revolution and Victory Day sometimes without proper thinking...). The spacecraft was not ready and in order to fulfil the demand of the Communist Party leader, Korolev rapidly designed quite simple satellite that should not separate from the upper stage of the rocket, using its telemetry equipment, putting Laika dog inside. Thus literally, the more "advanced" type of spacecraft - Sputnik 2, was launched plus hosting a living creature, that actually was not as important as it turned to be in future.

1st and 2nd Sputnik postcard. 1957.jpg
Moscow
Moscow

2000 orbits of 2nd satellite red official cancellation on the Moscow City Collector Society cover

Moscow
Moscow

a "well-formed" serviced cover with official cancellation for 2000 orbits of 2nd satellite

Moscow
Moscow

1st anniversary

The third satellite was a fully equipped spacecraft launched from the second try on May 15, 1958 (the first launch turned to be a disaster when launch vehicle exploded after 2 minute flight). Sputnik 3 was fully controllable from Earth, weighted “enormous” 1327 kg, held scientific equipment and transmitted a huge amount of much needed data during the whole flight duration until de-orbiting on April 6, 1960. In the astrophilately this event was widely celebrated on official and club covers. The image of Sputnik 3 appeared along with the Sputnik and even became a trademark of the

Mezhkniga covers. Notable remark - Sputnik 3 launch was dedicated to XXI congress of Communist party (January 1959) and that fact was reflected on the covers as well.

Kiev 1960
Kiev 1960

1000 orbits of 3rd satellite special cancellation on philex cover

Kaunas
Kaunas

3000 orbits of 3rd satellite special cancellation on philex cover

Moscow
Moscow

3000 orbits of 3rd satellite official cancellation on the Moscow City Collector Society cover

Chelyabinsk
Chelyabinsk

4000 orbits of the 3rd satellite club black cancellation

Moscow
Moscow

5000 orbits of 3rd satellite cancellation on official Mezhkniga cover

Chelyabinsk
Chelyabinsk

6000 orbits

Petrozavodsk
Petrozavodsk

8000 orbits

Moscow
Moscow

First Day Mezhkniga cancellation in the form of 3rd satellite on official cover.

Leningrad
Leningrad

10 000 orbits of 3rd satellite official cancellation

Moscow
Moscow

10 000 orbits of 3rd satellite official cancellation on the cover with dedication to XXI congress of Communist party

Moscow
Moscow

a "well-formed" serviced cover with official cancellation for XXI congress of Communist party. Note the image of 3 first satellites over the Kremlin

Moscow Planetarium
Moscow Planetarium

2nd anniversary of First satellite launch

Magnitogorsk
Magnitogorsk

10000 orbits

Minsk
Minsk

serviced cover with club cancellation for 10 000 orbits of 3rd satellite

Chelyabinsk
Chelyabinsk

serviced cover with club cancellation for 10 000 orbits of 3rd satellite

North Pole station
North Pole station

nice Leningrad club cacheted cover serviced from North Pole drifting station in 1961

Moscow
Moscow

10 000 orbits of 3rd satellite official cancellation

Kiev
Kiev

10 000 orbits of 3rd satellite club cancellation and cover

Kiev
Kiev

3rd satellite 1st anniversary club cancellation and cover

Chelyabinsk
Chelyabinsk

3rd satellite 1st anniversary club cancellation and cover

Leningrad
Leningrad

last orbit of 3rd satellite official cancellation on the Leningrad City Collector Society cover

Leningrad
Leningrad

last orbit of 3rd satellite official cancellation on the Leningrad City Collector Society cover

Leningrad
Leningrad
Moscow
Moscow

last orbit of 3rd satellite official cancellation on the Moscow City Collector Society cover

Chelyabinsk
Chelyabinsk

last day on orbit of the 3rd satellite club cancellation

3rd satellite
3rd satellite

4th anniversary Kiev Young Collector's Club

3rd satellite
3rd satellite

4th anniversary Krasnoyarsk

3rd satellite
3rd satellite

4th anniversary Baku

3rd satellite
3rd satellite

5th anniversary Riga

3rd satellite
3rd satellite

Riga - serviced cover

3rd satellite
3rd satellite

5th anniversary Magadan

3rd satellite
3rd satellite

5th anniversary Baku

Heavy Satellite 01 (also known as Sputnik 7 or Giant satellite) was actually an unsuccessful launch of Venera-1 spacecraft to Venus. The probe should have reached Venus and deliver a container with a USSR medal to the surface. Due to acceleration failure Venera-1 remained on the Earth orbit rapidly de-orbiting and disintegrated over Eastern Siberia. Soviet media (as usual) reported about successful launch of “first heavy” Earth satellite and well planned flight; this was reflected on the covers as well. Interestingly, the container with the medal was found by a boy in 1963 and returned to the Korolev OKB-1.

5th anniversary of 3rd satellite launch Minsk club cover

5th anniversary of 3rd satellite launch Liepaja club cover

Sputnik-Giant blue
Sputnik-Giant blue
Vilnius
Vilnius

Giant satellite

Minsk
Minsk

Heavy satellite

Giant satellite
Giant satellite

1st anniversary Baku

1st spaceship
1st spaceship

2nd anniversary Vinnitsa

1st spaceship
1st spaceship

2nd anniversary Baku

1st spaceship
1st spaceship

2nd anniversary Kharkov

1st spaceship
1st spaceship

50th anniversary

1st Sputnik, 5y postcard.jpg

In 1962 a major space event has been celebrated – 5 years since First satellite was launched that actually marked the 5th anniversary of “Space Era”. In astrophilately this milestone was treated accordingly. Official stamp, covers and cancellations were issued. Sputnik anniversary official special cancellation was applied in 19 cities.  I do not have all the places - this was not my goal, just some. Many clubs issued special cachets and cancellations, some in several variations of colors and even types of cachets. Some issued only cachets and used official postmark, others used their own cancellation on the official covers. In general most of the covers can be seen quite often and cost $5 and less.

Moscow
Moscow

official black postmark on the official cover and stamp

Moscow
Moscow

serviced cover

Moscow
Moscow

official red Moscow International Post Office cancellation on the official "art" cover from GlavRosKniga publishing house

Moscow
Moscow

official "art" cover from GlavRosKniga with Moscow International Post Office First Day cancellation

Kiev
Kiev

official cancellation on official cover

Kiev
Kiev

nicely designed cover with 1957 First satellite stamps including overprinted Tsiolkovsky

Leningrad
Leningrad
Tashkent
Tashkent
Alma Ata
Alma Ata
Vilnius
Vilnius

club cover with official cancellation

Moscow
Moscow

Moscow International Post Office red postmark on Moscow City Collector society club cover

Moscow
Moscow

another example of Moscow club cover note the different text and color of cachet

Magnitogorsk
Magnitogorsk

club cover

Karaganda
Karaganda

purple club cancellation on blue club cover

Karaganda
Karaganda

black club cancellation on red club cover

Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad

club cover

Kharkov
Kharkov

club cover

Kharkov
Kharkov

club cover serviced in 1967 addressed to the head of USSR Philatelic Society from Kharkov affiliate

Kuibyshev
Kuibyshev

club cover

Nikolaev
Nikolaev

red cancellation with brown cachet

Nikolaev
Nikolaev

blue cancellation with blue cachet

Lvov
Lvov

club cover

Perm
Perm

white paper with red cachet although the cachet show the first cosmonauts to fly before Oct 4, 1962, the event is dedicated to the 5th anniversary of the First satellite launch, as written on the cover

Perm
Perm

blue paper with black cachet

Murmansk
Murmansk

club cover

Kiev
Kiev

Young Collectors Club cover and cancellation + official special postmark

Samarkand
Samarkand

club cover

Tomsk
Tomsk

club cover

Vinnitsa
Vinnitsa

club cover

Vinnitsa
Vinnitsa

vignette full sheet

Kalinin
Kalinin

club cancellation on official cover

Vilnius
Vilnius
Riga
Riga
Stanislav
Stanislav
Donetsk
Donetsk

club cover

Ekavpils
Ekavpils

club cover

Arkhangelsk
Arkhangelsk

club cover

Barnaul
Barnaul

club cover

Taganrog
Taganrog

club cover

Sverdlovsk
Sverdlovsk
Liepaja
Liepaja
Chelyabinsk
Chelyabinsk
Kiev
Kiev

Club cover

Tbilisi
Tbilisi
Kishinev
Kishinev

One HUGE portion of Soviet “club” covers has been devoted to Kosmos satellites, beginning with Kosmos-1 (also known as Sputnik 11). “Kosmos series” was a product of secrecy around Soviet space program that had a clear military direction. Basically any launch could be designated as Kosmos + number and there was no need to elaborate on the new type of spacecraft and its application, as well as there were no difference between success and failure in terms of propaganda.

Around 2500 Kosmos launches were done from Baikonur, Plesetsk and Kapustin Yar. As a rule of thumb, Kosmos designation was given to the Earth orbit satellites, including lunar spaceships and interplanetary probes that did not leave to their respective targets. Some Kosmos launches gained fame, like Kosmos-110 with Ugolek and Veterok “space dogs”, Kosmos-672 ASTP testbed, Kosmos-1445 Buran testbed, Kosmos-954 nuclear powered satellite that crashed in Canada in 1978 and some others. But all began in 1962.

There are really a lot of covers marking Kosmos satellites in the first several years especially until 1966 before mass “club” cover movement almost ceased to exist, leaving lonely private initiatives that continued through 70s. I never paid much attention to the Kosmos events, but as they are very numerous I also have some in my collection. Possibly will add more, but not at the first priority.

Kosmos-1
Kosmos-1

Krasnodar

Kosmos-3
Kosmos-3

Moscow

Kosmos-3
Kosmos-3

Moscow Mezhkniga cover

Kosmos-3
Kosmos-3

Stanislav

Kosmos-3
Kosmos-3

Minsk

Kosmos-3
Kosmos-3

Minsk

Kosmos-4
Kosmos-4

Magnitogorsk

Kosmos-5
Kosmos-5

Magnitogorsk

Kosmos-5
Kosmos-5

Minsk

Kosmos-5
Kosmos-5

Baku

Kosmos-5
Kosmos-5

Stanislav

Kosmos-6
Kosmos-6

Minsk

Kosmos-6
Kosmos-6

Magnitogorsk

Kosmos-7
Kosmos-7

Magnitogorsk

Kosmos-8
Kosmos-8

Magnitogorsk

Kosmos-10
Kosmos-10

Minsk

Kosmos-10
Kosmos-10

Baku

Kosmos-11
Kosmos-11

Stanislav

Kosmos 12
Kosmos 12

Arkhangelsk

Kosmos-12
Kosmos-12

Stanistav

Kosmos 13
Kosmos 13

Baku

Kosmos-14
Kosmos-14

Baku

Kosmos 15
Kosmos 15

Baku

Kosmos 16
Kosmos 16

Baku

Tartu “club” covers.

Tartu Collectors Club is by all means the most prolific and well-known to the astrophilately society. It appeared in 1962 under the leadership of Juhan Noormagi and from 1963 began its production of topical space cachets and hand stamped marks commemorating every space-related event of the former USSR starting from Kosmos-20 launch and until 1965 when its coverage became loose and more selective. These activities continued through 1978.

Tartu “club” covers introduced a single cachet model for numerous events with the same “core logic” – like Luna, Zond, Venera, Mars probes and Soyuz launches. In this model the main cachet remained the same allowing hand stamped changes in the name, number and other details. In total 40 different cover types were designed with at least 306 various hand stamped cachets made in different colors. The numbers of each type of event cover production went through 250 pieces in most cases.

Note that sometimes “incomplete” Tartu covers can be found – mostly only with club cachets lacking official postmarks – these were probably taken from production leftover. Interestingly although Tartu Collectors Club was a former USSR territory, the covers are mostly available on from the Western sources and quite rare with Russian dealers.

Info taken from Jim Reichman article in ORBIT #93

Kosmos-20
Kosmos-20

Tartu

Kosmos-20
Kosmos-20

Stanislav

Kosmos-21
Kosmos-21

Tartu

Kosmos 22
Kosmos 22

Ivano-Frankovsk

Kosmos-26
Kosmos-26

Baku

Kosmos-27
Kosmos-27

Baku

Kosmos 28
Kosmos 28

Baku

Kosmos 28
Kosmos 28

Tartu

Kosmos 30
Kosmos 30

Ivano-Frankovsk

Kosmos-30
Kosmos-30

Arkhangelsk

Kosmos-38/39/40
Kosmos-38/39/40

Baikonur forged cancellation

Kosmos-42/43
Kosmos-42/43

Arkhangelsk

Kosmos-50
Kosmos-50

Baku

Kosmos-51
Kosmos-51

Tartu

Kosmos-58
Kosmos-58

Liepaja

Kosmos 59
Kosmos 59

Tartu

Kosmos-65
Kosmos-65

Tartu

Kosmos-69
Kosmos-69

Tartu

Kosmos-70
Kosmos-70

Arkhangelsk

Kosmos-100
Kosmos-100

Tomsk

Kosmos-100
Kosmos-100

Shilute

Kosmos-100
Kosmos-100

Shilute

Kosmos-100
Kosmos-100

Odessa

Another philatelic excitement was devoted to Polyot and Elektron series of satellites.

Maneuvering spacecraft Polyot -1 and Poyout-2 were launched by Polyot rocket launch vehicle (11A59) – a lightweight version of R-7 developed by Vladimir Chelomey. The main idea of the project was to develop and test the measures of confronting American spy satellites. Actually Polyot satallites served as prototypes for the first operational interceptors of satellites launched in 1968-1970.

On the other hand four Elektron satellites served pure scientific needs – measuring of Earth radiation. They had a very high elliptical orbit – up to 60,000 km for the Elektron-2 and 4. The experiments were devoted to the Year of Quite Sun.

Elektron 1-2
Elektron 1-2

Arkhangelsk

Elektron 1
Elektron 1

Perm

Elektron 1-2
Elektron 1-2

Ivano-Frankovsk

Elektron 1-2
Elektron 1-2

Tartu

Elektron 3-4
Elektron 3-4

Baikonur forged cancellation

1st Geophysical Rocket
1st Geophysical Rocket

5th anniversary Baku

Polyot-1
Polyot-1

Arkhangelsk

Polyot-1
Polyot-1

Arkhangelsk

Polyot-1
Polyot-1

Kaliningrad

Polyot-1
Polyot-1

Minsk

Polyot-1
Polyot-1

Perm

Polyot-2
Polyot-2

Ivano-Frankovsk

Polyot-2
Polyot-2

Vinnitsa 1964

Polyot-2
Polyot-2

Arkhangelsk

Proton-1
Proton-1

scientific satellite for exploring space radiation Perm