Canada 150: Space-Themed Stamp
Revealed

Canada Post celebrated May the Fourth — unofficially known among a certain space-fanatic subculture as Star Wars Day — by unveiling a space-themed stamp as the third in its set of Canada 150 stamps.

Unlike the first two stamp unveilings which were held live, Canada Post unveiled the space stamp via text, photos and a video online on its Canada Post Magazine website. The new stamp, and the video featuring the students, represents Canada’s past and future in space technology.

Calm down, Wookie lovers. Star Wars is NOT on the stamp. The vignette shows the Canadarm, a piece of space equipment integral to NASA space missions that was created in Canada. The Canadarm is shown in action on the stamp in a photo shot during a space-shuttle mission. The Earth is clearly seen below.

Special guest Canadian astronaut Lieutenant Colonel Jeremy Hansen helped unveil the stamp during a filmed visit with seventh- and eighth-grade students at Glen Ames Senior Public School in Toronto. The students will represent Canada in an upcoming robotics competition in California.

In the Canada Post video, the students demonstrate their robots and Hansen talks with them about how space exploration has become an international universe in which “everyone gets along.”

Canadarm made its debut aboard the space shuttle Colombia and was used for 30 years to help move and maneuver cargo, equipment and astronauts in space. The marvel of Canadian engineering weighed less than 480 kilograms, and could lift more than 30,000 kilograms — the approximate weight of a city bus — using less power than an electric kettle, Canada Post noted.

Canada Post’s video notes that the Canadarm remains in use on the international space station as well as applications on earth.

Hansen, a former captain in the Royal Canadian Air Force, was one of two astronauts chosen following a public recruitment campaign in 2009. Hansen has not yet been to space, but he worked in space-like conditions in 2014 when he was part of the aquanaut crew in a NASA underwater project. He lived and worked for seven days in the Neemo 19 underwater laboratory.

Previously announced stamps honor Habitat at Expo 67 and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitution. Seven more stamps will be unveiled in special ceremonies between now and the official release date of June 1. The sesquicentennial commemoratives celebrate Canada’s 50 years since the centennial.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA; in French, Agence Spatiale Canadienne, ASC) was created in 1989 and formally established May 10, 1990 by Royal Assent and an act of Parliament.

The creation of the agency followed space exploration with missiles and satellites during the years after World War II. After the Soviet Union and United States, Canada in 1962 became the third nation to successfully launch a satellite, Alouette 1.

Canada has an active astronaut, satellite and space technology program. Nine Canadians have participated in 17 manned missions in total: 14 NASA space shuttle missions (including one mission to Mir) and 3 Roscosmos Soyuz missions.

The first 13 flights to space for Canadians, a later 14th, were aboard NASA space shuttles. The other trips have been via Russian Soyuz spacecrafts, the last in 2012. Marc Garneau was the first Canadian in space when he traveled on the space shuttle Challenger in 1984. Garneau also was the first Canadian to return to space when he made a 1996 trip aboard Endeavour, a ship he boarded a second time in 1999.

Roberta Bondar was the second Canadian and first Canadian woman in space when she traveled on Discovery in 1992.

Chris Hadfield is the lone Canadian astronaut to visit the Mir space station when he did so in 1995.

David Saint-Jacques is due to be the next Canadian space when he travels on a Soyuz spaceship scheduled for launch in November 2018.

The headquarters of the CSA is at the John H. Chapman Space Centre in Longueuil, Quebec. Chapman was a leader in Canada’s early space program, leading to the successful launch of Alouette 1.

Space Pioneer John Glenn and the 1962 Project Mercury Stamp

United States 4-cent Project Mercury stamp.
United States 4-cent Project Mercury stamp.

John Glenn (1921–2016) is linked to one of modern U.S. postal history’s most interesting tales that will likely never be repeated. Here is the story, according to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, with an excerpt below:

On February 20, 1962 , John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. Minutes after his safe return, the Post Office released the Project Mercury stamp—the first U.S. commemorative stamp issued at the same time as the event it celebrated. It had been prepared in complete secrecy in case the mission did not succeed.

To keep the project quiet, the stamp’s designer worked from home while claiming to be on vacation. The picture engraver also gave the impression he was on leave, but came in at night. Another engraver did the lettering on weekends.

Just over 400 people knew the secret, about half of them postal inspectors. As the day approached, stamps were sent in sealed packages to 305 post offices, still a mystery even to the postmasters themselves.