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50TH ANNIVERSARY OF HUMAN SPACE FLIGHT
On 12 April 2011, the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) issued three stamps in a mini-sheet format of sixteen stamps to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Human Space Flight. UNPA also issued one souvenir sheet with six different denominations, two from each office, namely New York, Geneva and Vienna. This is the first time ever that UNPA has issued a souvenir sheet in this format.
FIRST DAY CANCELLATIONS
On 12 April 2011, special first day hand-cancellations for the “50th Anniversary of Human Space Flight” stamps were made available at United Nations Headquarters in New York; the Palais des Nations, Geneva; and the Vienna International Centre.
The stamps in the denominations of 44 cents, F.s. 0,50 and € 0,35 measure 40 mm horizontally by 30 mm vertically, perforation to perforation. Perforation: 13.
The horizontal sheets of sixteen stamps have four marginal inscriptions, two in the left margin and two in the right margin. The marginal inscription consists of the United Nations emblem with the text “United Nations” above the emblem and the year 2011 below the emblem. One copyright symbol with the year 2011 appears in the bottom left margin. The artist’s signature appears in the lower right margin.
SOUVENIR SHEET SPECIFICATIONS
UNPA issued one souvenir sheet design with six denominations on the sheet, two from each office. The souvenir sheets, in the denominations of 44 cents, 98 cents, F.s. 0,85, F.s. 1,00, € 0,55 and € 0,65 measure 83 mm x 260 mm. This is the first time ever that UNPA has issued a souvenir sheet in this format.
The stamps and souvenir sheets were printed in offset by Lowe-Martin Group (Canada).
ABOUT THE ISSUE
On 12 April 1961, Yuri Gagarin of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics became the first human to travel into outer space. His space flight heralded a new era of human endeavour in what has become known as the “final frontier”. Since that historic flight, humans have set foot upon the Moon, have learned to work in the harsh vacuum of outer space, and, for the last decade, have maintained a permanent human presence outside the Earth.
Though human space flight began during the height of the cold war, it became an arena of both competition and cooperation. The race that culminated in the first steps taken on the Moon by American astronaut Neil Armstrong on 20 July 1969, also resulted in the first tentative steps towards international cooperation in human space flight— the 1975 joint American-Soviet space mission, known as the “Apollo-Soyuz Test Project”. Since then, nations have recognized the benefits of working together in outer space and that cooperation has led to the establishment of humanity’s permanent space outpost: the International Space Station (ISS). With over 15 nations working together in what is considered one of humankind’s greatest scientific and technical achievements, the ISS is a truly international endeavour and epitomizes one of the goals of the United Nations: international cooperation in outer space.
United Nations interest in the use and exploration of outer space began shortly after the launch of the first satellite “Sputnik-1” in 1957. Recognizing the incredible potential offered by space technology for overcoming Earth-based problems like famine and disasters, the Member States of the United Nations established a permanent United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). Tasked with developing a legal framework for the conduct of activities in outer space and also facilitating the use of space-based technology and its application for developed and developing nations alike, the Committee met for the first time on 27 November 1961, the same year as Gagarin’s flight.
In the five decades of its existence, COPUOS has created five international treaties and five legal principles governing the activities of nations in outer space. This body of space law enshrines key concepts such as: the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all nations, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all humankind; the banning of the placement of weapons of mass destruction in outer space; and outer space is not subject to national appropriation. With modern civilization becoming increasingly dependent on space-based technology such as satellite communications and satellite navigation, the potential damage to these systems by collisions with space debris has become of increasing concern to nations. As such, the work of COPUOS has become even more relevant today, with its development of guidelines for use by countries to prevent and mitigate the creation of space debris; its discussions on the need to ensure the long-term sustainability of space activities; and its continuing work in ensuring all countries benefit from the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.
The stamps and souvenir sheets were designed by Peter Bollinger (U.S.A.). Renowned in the field of commercial art, Peter Bollinger is an award-winning illustrator whose clients include Grey Advertising, Sony Entertainment, DreamWorks, Sega, Wizards of the Coast, Nintendo, Mars, Harper Collins, Scholastic and many other publishing, advertising and entertainment organizations. Holding degrees in industrial and environmental design, Peter’s expertise covers diverse fields, from the design of computer terminals and street furniture, to monorails and automobiles. He has won major design and illustration awards in the United States, Australia, Italy and Japan. He undertakes architectural and concept design for numerous clients locally and abroad such as Disney Imagineering, Discovery Communications and numerous Japanese theme parks. Peter works in two separate styles, traditional airbrush and digital illustration, although the two have become more and more similar with each passing technical innovation. Once a die-hard New Yorker, Peter now lives in the relative tranquility of Silverado, California, with his family. These are Mr. Bollinger’s first stamp designs for the United Nations.