Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Stamps celebrate pioneering Mercury spaceflights

In a 2 p.m. ceremony today at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the U.S. Postal Service will unveil postage stamps commemorating NASA Mercury missions past and present.

One stamp celebrates Thursday's 50th anniversary of the Project Mercury flight that made Alan Shepard the first American to fly in space, aboard the Freedom 7 capsule.

A second stamp pays tribute to NASA's unmanned Messenger mission, which launched from Cape Canaveral in August 2004 and in March became the first spacecraft to enter orbit around Mercury.

Today's First-Day-of-Issue dedication ceremony will be held in the Visitor Complex's Rocket Garden, next to a seven-story Redstone rocket like the one that boosted Shepard's pioneering 15-minute, 28-second suborbital spaceflight.

Special guests include Project Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter, Mercury/Apollo astronaut Shepard's daughters, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana, NASA Deputy Director of Planetary Science Jim Adams, and U.S. Postal Service Vice President of Finance & Planning Stephen Masse.

Visitor Complex guests can purchase the Forever stamps from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

On Thursday, another celebration at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will include more than 200 Mercury program workers and a re-creation of Shepard's flight.

Image credit: U.S. Postal Service

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