USPS Commemorates Spaceflight Past and Present

Postage stamps honoring Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, America’s first man in space, and NASA’s MESSENGER probe, the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury, will be presented on May 4th at a public event taking place at the Aviation Heritage Park in Dayton, Ohio.

Alan Shepard poses in his pressure suit before his historic flight on May 5, 1961. Credit: NASA.

The first stamp salutes NASA’s Project Mercury, America’s first manned spaceflight program, and astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr.’s historic sub-orbital flight on May 5, 1961 aboard the spacecraft Freedom 7.

The other stamp highlights NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft currently exploring the planet Mercury. It successfully established orbit around the planet on March 18, 2011, the first spacecraft ever to do so.

These two historic missions frame a remarkable fifty-year period in which the U.S. has advanced space exploration through more than 1,500 manned and unmanned flights.

Both stamps were designed by professional artist Donato Giancola of Brooklyn, NY, who based the stamp designs on NASA photos and images.

Both stamps will be issued as “Forever Stamps” for use in mailing a one-ounce letter. Regardless of when the stamps are purchased and no matter how postage prices may change, these stamps will always be equal to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce price.

NASA's Mercury-Redstone 3 rocket, with Alan Shepard inside the Freedom 7 capsule, launches from Cape Canaveral on May 5, 1961. Credit: NASA.

Stamps are now available online at the US Postal Service store here.