Wednesday, October 6, 2021

The STS-8 Flight Cover

Here is an STS-8 Flight Cover that features the Space Shuttle Challenger. The stamp is listed as Scott #1909 Eagle and Moon. The cover is a limited production cover with serial numbers. There are 3 postmarks: NASA 25th anniversary Aug. 14, 1983, Launch Aug. 30, 1983, and Return to Earth Sept. 5, 1983. This is a cover flown on the space shuttle.

The cachet represents a reproduction of NASA’s official patch design and on the back is the 25th-anniversary logo with the serial number. The stamp was issued on August 12, 1983, at the Kennedy Space Center. August 14th is the day the shuttle was scheduled to be launched with its cargo of covers. The circular postmark cancellation on the back is the place and date the shuttle returned.

The STS-8 was the eighth mission of a space shuttle and the third flight for the Space Shuttle Challenger. There were many “firsts” on this mission: First African American astronaut (Guion Bluford), First night launch, and First night landing. It was also the first space shuttle landing at Kennedy Space Center. It was a successful mission other than the discovery that a solid-fuel rocket booster almost malfunctioned during the launch.

The mission lasted 6 days, 1 hour, 8 minutes, and 43 seconds. They deployed a multipurpose satellite for India. The nose of the orbiter was turned away from the sun for 14 hours in order to test the effects of extreme cold on the flight deck area. The crew filmed the performance of an experimental heat pipe in the cargo bag and the orbiter dropped to 139 miles altitude to perform tests. They also tested the remote manipulator system to evaluate joint reactions to higher loads. Another experiment included observing six rats to note their reactions in space. There were five Get Away Special experiment packages which included eight cans of postal covers.

(The Challenger’s service ended on January 28, 1986, when it exploded 73 seconds after takeoff. Seven astronauts were killed.)

Activities:
  • Students research other space missions and share their information with the class.
  • Students find other interesting experiments done in space and their results. Make a class chart featuring these experiments.
  • Students can make a model of the space shuttle.
  • Students research an astronaut and share this in a presentation with the class.
Original photos by Pat Hensley

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