ASTP German covers
When looking at German ASTP material, I decided to create a separate chapter and there are a couple of reasons. As you remember – I collect only the stuff originally from the countries that directly or indirectly participated in the project, for instance – tracking and satellite stations and other facilities holders. Germany, not only owned several space-related facilities but was directly involved in the scientific part of project.
First of all there are two very important institutions - Raisting satellite station and Ramstein Air Force Base, responsible for launch and recovery support coordination over the Eastern Hemisphere. Bochum observatory is an independent institution that served as data relay and gathered objective flight info. From the 28 joint experiments, 2 were German - МА-014 Electrophoresis and MA-107 Biostack III. Needless to mention, that the docking itself occurred over Germany, on the line Alsfeld – Erfurt that were by then in different countries (FRG and DDR), 140 kilometers apart. At last, but possibly the most important are the German dealers that excelled in bringing to philatelic light so much valuable and fascinating ASTP material. The most adventurous is of cause Eberhard Coelle double cancellations story that I save for a dessert.
ASTP dual cancellation covers by Eberhard Coelle are known for their unrealistic and intriguing story. 3000 ASTP emblem cacheted covers were cancelled on Jul 15, 1975, first in Moscow for the Soyuz launch and then at Cape Canaveral for the Apollo launch. Another 3000 Moscow cancelled covers got Johnson Space Center special cancellation on Jul 17 – ASTP docking. Having covers cancelled for both launches taking place on the same day (7 1/2 hours apart) and thousands of miles apart, posed a great challenge but space dealer Eberhard Coelle, through much planning and assistance was able to succeed. Besides very tough schedule of flights USSR-Germany-USA and then Florida, the winning run was made when US Post Office postmaster in the Cape Canaveral post office volunteered to service all the collectors covers during afterhours. This story was revealed by David Ball, author of “American Astrophilately”.
Besides the mentioned covers, some other combinations of same-day dual cancellations exist, like these FDOI KSC - Moscow on big-size covers