U.S. Postage Stamps Honor Project Mercury & MESSENGER
6 Apr 2011
(Source: United States Postal Service)
The 50th anniversary of America's first manned spaceflight is being commemorated with the issuance of two stamps. The stamps go on sale May 4.
One stamp salutes the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Project Mercury, America's first manned spaceflight program, and NASA astronaut Alan Shepard's historic flight on May 5, 1961, aboard the spacecraft Freedom 7.
The other stamp draws attention to NASA's unmanned MESSENGER mission, a scientific investigation of the planet Mercury. On March 18, 2011, MESSENGER became the first spacecraft to enter into orbit around Mercury.
These two historic missions---Shepard's Mercury flight and MESSENGER's orbit of Mercury---frame a remarkable fifty-year period in which America has advanced space exploration through more than 1,500 manned and unmanned flights.
The Project Mercury and MESSENGER Mission stamps were designed by Donato Giancola of Brooklyn, NY, under the direction of Phil Jordan of Falls Church, VA. A three-time winner of the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist, Giancola is known for his cover illustrations for science fiction authors, including Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Phillip K. Dick, and Arthur C. Clarke. His luminous works for J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have received recognition through more than a dozen awards.
Giancola based the stamp designs on NASA photographs and images. The Project Mercury stamp depicts Shepard, the Mercury capsule Freedom 7, and the Redstone launching rocket. The MESSENGER Mission stamp depicts the MESSENGER spacecraft in orbit around the planet Mercury.