New Horizons’ Pluto Stamp is One Step Closer to Becoming a Reality

Concept art for a New Horizons postage stamp. Image Credit: Dan Durda/Southwest Research Institute

A little over a year ago Alan Stern, principal investigator on the New Horizons mission, announced the team’s plans to have a Forever Stamp issued by the US Postal Service commemorating the New Horizons spacecraft along with its targets, Pluto and Charon. Thousands signed the petition, and today the team announced a long-awaited update to all of its supporters: it’s definitely a maybe!

In an email sent out to petition signers as well as on its Facebook page, the New Horizons team noted that the stamp — conceptualized by planetary scientist and artist Dan Durda — has cleared its first major hurdle in the USPS approval process and will be submitted for review and consideration before their Advisory Committee.

Pending that approval, it will then be put on the agenda for the meeting of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee.

After that point, since no notification is made to the applicant about a stamp’s approval by the Postmaster General until a public announcement is issued it’s likely that we won’t know if there will actually be a New Horizons stamp until the spacecraft is on final approach to Pluto in July 2015. Hopefully the USPS will see the benefit to having a stamp actually ready for purchase by that time and plan accordingly, but one never knows. Until then, cross your fingers and keep an eye out for a Forever Stamp featuring the “First Spacecraft to Explore Pluto!”

“This is a chance for us all to celebrate what American space exploration can achieve though hard work, technical excellence, the spirit of scientific inquiry, and the uniquely human drive to explore.”

– Alan Stern, New Horizons Principal Investigator

USPS Forever Stamps can be used to mail a one-ounce letter regardless of when the stamps are purchased or used and no matter how prices may change in the future. Forever Stamps are always sold at the same price as a regular First-Class Mail stamp. Forever Stamps can be used for international mail, but since all international prices are higher than domestic US prices, additional postage is necessary.

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.