New gallery for Soyuz-Salyut spaceflights
It looks like I do not have a lot of covers especially for the earlier Soyuz flights and the chronology of the events is very hectic with huge amount of gaps. I tried to give some info on the most dramatic events like Soyuz-11 tragedy and Soyuz-18-1 miraculous escape, mostly using Russian Wikipedia and other sources. There are several flown covers from Salyut 6 and 7 that I am very happy to have.
Another interesting thing about this gallery is different variations of the late club covers that appeared after the main club cover production wave dissolved in mid 60s. These new covers are far less creative and colorful and mostly bear simple rubber stamped cachets with possible exclusion of Tartu covers that keep the “old” style.
New gallery for Baikonur Cosmodrome
Baikonur is a very popular topic among astro-philatelists. Since 1975 when first postmark and event special cancellation were used, Baikonur became very prolific in terms of philatelic inventory. This was in Soviet times and remains nowadays. At first I wanted to make a gallery for Baikonur dedicated covers – anniversaries, club, etc. but later I thought about making a reference page with Baikonur postmarks and BaikonurSvyazInform special cancellations – semi-independent "affiliate" of Russian Postal Service. The postmarks section is based on Jim Reichman great study published in ORBIT magazine.
New gallery for International Space Station (ISS)
Long time awaited gallery devoted to ISS. I noticed that presenting the collection can have a point of disappointment when you realize that there are so many gaps and missing items. This was the deal with my ISS inventory. On the other hand there is much to collect and I can occupy myself for a good dozen of years. The gallery is not finished and I have another 50 or so covers to put in.
There are some other updates mainly to ASTP galleries
New gallery for Space Support Assets
A small gallery dedicated to various organizations and institutions related to the space program. I also include astronomy and weather service stuff. Not very fascinating as space adventures but essential to complete the picture.
There are some other updates related to MIR, ISS and ASTP galleries.
January was a very intensive month for my collection – I got about 100 new covers for different subjects. Some of them are “high-end” like 5 flown covers from the last ISS missions and one of the MIR, others are very simple like Cosmonautics day special cancellations for 1970s and 1980s. Though not very exciting but still they were missing and I’ve been gradually filling the gaps. I also got about a dozen Sergey Chizhov cachets some of them are really state of art and quite rare. So I carry on and in March there will be another 100 waiting for me in Russia.
March was fruitful in terms of new acquisitions into my collection. Not only many galleries got updated but I’ve finally shaped and introduced Energia-Buran page devoted to the ill-fated but prominent piece of Soviet space history. It was not a simple task as despite the wide publicity there is not too much to show in astrophilately terms and took me quite a time to put it all together. Finally I was lucky to get my Kniga “almost flown” cover that gives the gallery more or less complete look – the theme itself is by no means complete and I have to work hard on it!
As a courtesy from Mr. Ralf Shults I got several unique pieces of ASTP commemorative covers from Hoyerswerda and Nordkurier private post as well as Balloon post card that I proudly exhibit in relevant sections. There are some other additions of ASTP pre-launch, launch-time and Russian covers.
5 new flown covers made their way to my inventory including amazing Sergey Chizhov flown card, Sovet era propaganda cover taken aboard MIR station by one of the last spaceflights before disappearance of USSR and my first experience with Roscosmos flown covers that I was lucky to get for ASTP 40th anniversary commemoration. The last but not the least are Soyuz TM-18 perfectly stamped card and usually colorful ISS 49 Energia astro-piece. Notably MIR gallery got several German pictorial cancellations for MIR 92 and MIR 97 projects.
Finally I had a flashback and realized that it is not a bad idea to show stamps along with covers – it makes nice appearance and supports the philatelic essence of the website. I do not plan to show each and every Soviet/Russian space stamp only those that in my opinion suite best to the subject of the galleries.
Another major update with more than 150 covers beginning with ASTP pre-flight package received from Ken Havekotte with a very interesting cover carried on Saturn mobile launched while deploying the rocket to the launch pad. As we are used to such occasions this was the first time ever covers carried on the mobile launcher deck.
Pskov covers are sometimes chaotic in the design and inconsistent in the postmarks but they closely resemble club covers of 1960s and have their right to be placed in my collection. I got several of them mostly for Cosmonautic day and Space age commemoration. Another interesting addition came from Kaluga designer Valentin Afonin with his interesting cachets and official cinderellas that are distributed in Kaluga post office.
In the cachet area this was a first time I encountered Astros-Press cachets – I got three of them for MAKS 99, Sea Launch and Soyuz TM-26. I continued to fetch Kazakhstan club covers that I find attractive and here are a couple of great covers especially for 1997 Shuttle-MIR program.
Finally I put some attention to Soyuz-Salyut and early MIR flights, honoring Soyuz-31 with several German issues, interesting Bulgarian cover for Soyuz TM-5 and several official FDCs. The last but not the least is a couple of covers cancelled with the latest Komarov Soyuz-1 flight 50th anniversary postmark + Alexey Pribytkov cachets.
There several dozens of new covers in my collection mainly in ASTP, MIR, Baikonur and ISS galleries.
ASTP – I finally got to add some more SCCS launch-time cachets as well as completed Bob Whitney section. Eventually I came over quite interesting commemorative postmarks from Rosemont, MI and Huntsville – leaving it only two missing US ASTP postmarks. One of the major achievements was to identify two faked Baikonur ASTP special cancellations that are now presented on the relevant page.
MIR gallery got a very uncommon Soyuz TM-8 cachet of Alexander Serebrov testing the SPK as well as additional covers on Shuttle-MIR program, mainly tracking from Goddard Space Flight Center.
I have also enriched Baikonur postmarks sections with additional variations of later types plus I am going to revise it completely with comments using Sergey Poznakhirko’s book – Baikonur Cosmodrome Post.
ISS gallery received sevaral STS and cargo ships covers in addition to some nice commemorative cachets.
April did not pass through without bringing some updates, though not as spectacular as at the beginning of the month but still worth to mention.
First of all I had finally shaped by Baikonur gallery. I redesigned the section with postmarks to mirror Sergey Poznakhirko recent publication of “Cosmodrome Baikonur post” book. I also deleted the section with BaykonurSvyazInform special cancellations as these come in the relevant pages and probably not very interesting in a common pool.
In the Russian ASTP covers section I added a story of Novosibirsk exhibition and its’ commemorative covers told by Oleg Maifat. As usual there were some additions to other ASTP galleries - not too much but notable. I added previously unknown to me Artopages and Aristocrat cachets as well as long looked Colorano cover with Cape Canaveral hand cancellation over US and USSR stamps.
One interesting cover that came recently is for ATV-4 with personalized stamp and Ralf Schulz pictorial cancellation that has been nicely serviced to Robert Keller.
I received the 2017 Cosmonautics Day covers that I’ve sent to my US address from Moscow using Cosmonautics Museum cacheted covers. Unfortunately these covers got a wrong postmark – serviced one day later … OHHH..
The last but not the least are several club covers especially Vostok 3/4 Shaulyai examples.
ISS gallery major upgrade
I redesigned the whole section dedicated to International Space station. Now it has four sub-sections each of them shows covers for different aspects or time periods. Although there is a possible shift in chronology but it is much more effective in terms of visualization and usability.
I also added around 100 new covers to different galleries.
In the last couple of weeks of June and first week of July I have added some interesting covers including:
- 1st Baikonur “Space mail” special postmark devoted to Soyuz 4-5 docking. This scarce cover carries four postmarks applied in Moscow by “scratched rocket” device.
- ATV CTB flown German ERNO philatelic club postcards. These are much less familiar than Astrium (Airbus) covers that came in colorful folders.
- a dozen of new ASTP covers including scarce Artopages cachet and FMF local post.
- several MIR covers including Sergey Chizhov covers for Soyuz TM-22, TM-25 and Shuttle-MIR program
- two covers with rare postmarks - Kazakhstan cover with error and Plesetsk Foton M1 special cancellation that was actually cancelled -)
NEWs tab change
I started a new page on Facebook that will serve to promote my beloved website and astrophilately on the social media ground. From now on, all the regular news will appear there along with my notes on various subjects. You are also welcome to write your comments, suggestions and anything you would like to discuss.
Here I will put only very important updates like unique items and structural changes.
A long-time awaited addition to my collection is this ATV-1 Jules Verne flown German ERNO-Philatelie card. 550 of these cards have been stored in CTB aboard ATV-1, then moved to Leonardo MPLM and flown back to Earth on the STS-126 Endeavour , spending in space 267 days. Despite much more known La Marianne club covers (EADS) this cards are rarely seen.
Another great piece is an RKK Energia 70th anniversary Roscosmos cover. Only 60 such covers have been postmarked on ISS plus around 25 privately designed envelopes.