In 2019 we created a stamp collection for Isle of Man Post Office in conjunction with NASA.
This is the story of what we made and how we made it happen.
The Story Behind the Making of the Moon Landing 50 Stamps
We are honoured to present the official Moon Landing 50th Anniversary stamps designed for the Isle of Man Post Office. This set of eight stamps marks 50 years since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface of the Moon, while Michael Collins waited in orbit, controlling their safe return.
We worked with the legendary George Abbey from NASA, the ‘Astronaut Maker’ who chose every crew member for the Apollo Missions as well as Skylab, Space Shuttle and the Shuttle-Mir programmes. Abbey was Center Director of NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Our eight stamps have been conceived to honour the first half of the Apollo Missions, from the announcement of the intention to go to the Moon, through the manned Apollo flights, up to Apollo 11, and that one small step, then Apollo 12, the return to the Moon. With that stamp we bear in mind our dear friend Alan Bean, fourth man to walk on the Moon, who died recently. You will find many tributes, secrets, facts, figures and quotes hidden in the stamps. All have a connection with the stamp concerned and we hope you enjoy the challenge of finding and interpreting them.
George William Samuel Abbey (born August 21, 1932) is a former director of the Johnson Space Center (JSC) and Fellow in Space Policy at the Baker Institute of Rice University.
We are honoured that George Abbey, Former Center Director of the NASA Johnson Space Center, was involved in the research and production of the stamps. Mr Abbey was instrumental in the Apollo Program, he was responsible for all space shuttle flight crews and put America’s first woman in space. Mr Abbey has been a leading force in the research, development and activation of the space program and as a pioneer of space travel, he commands the greatest respect in the industry. He is still actively involved in many space projects and we are honoured that he took the time to write our history of the Apollo Program.
What secrets lie beneath?
Each stamp includes secret codes, mentions of crew names, locations, a quote from the mission and tributes to people involved in the missions and this issue.
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Our first stamp features the Moon, the target of the Apollo missions. To the left of the image is the GPS coordinates of Rice Stadium, Houston, where President Kennedy made his speech announcing the Apollo programme. Upper right we have the date of this event. Kennedy was listed as a significant person, as well as Webb, the second Administrator of NASA and Gilruth, the first Director of NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center. Down the right side we have the famous line from President Kennedy’s speech “WE CHOOSE TO GO TO THE MOON IN THIS DECADE.”
Our second stamp features the Apollo Mission Control Room during the Apollo 11 lift-off. On the bottom left of the image we have the GPS coordinates of the Mission Control centre in Houston and top right, we have included the time and date of Apollo 11’s Moon Landing. The featured names are Phillips, Director of NASA’s Apollo Manned Lunar Landing Program; Low, a NASA administrator; Kraft, an American aerospace engineer and Faget, the mechanical engineer involved with the design of the Mercury spacecraft, the Gemini and Apollo spacecraft as well as the Space Shuttle. The quote is from Charles M. Duke Jr., the spacecraft communicator for Apollo 11. “ROGER, TRANQUILITY. WE COPY YOU ON THE GROUND.”
Our third stamp features a view from Apollo 7 of Florida, the location of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (now ‘Cape Kennedy’ Air Force Station). Left of the image, the stamp includes the GPS coordinates of lift-off location and upper right is the date and time of launch. Also included are the names of the crew, Schirra, Eisele and Cunningham, and the quote is from Shirra, “look at the sunrise. There you go. That’s the thrill of this business.
Our fourth stamp features a view from Apollo 8 of the first ‘Earthrise’ seen by humanity. Included upper right is the date and time of Apollo 8 lift-off. To the left of the stamp are the GPS coordinates of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, where the launch vehicle is housed. The crew names appearing on the stamps are Borman, Lovell and Anders. Genesis was recited during the Apollo 8 mission and William Anders recited the verse, “IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH.”
Our fifth stamp features a view from Apollo 9, the first manned flight of the lunar module in space. The time and date of lift-off is included upper right and the GPS coordinates of the Air and space museum in Chicago, where the launch vehicle is housed. The crew names McDivitt, Scott and Schweickart are also included and the quote is from McDivitt, “THERE’S THAT HORIZON. BOY, IS THAT PRETTY!”
Our sixth stamp features a view from Apollo 10 of the lunar module descending during the dry run rehearsal. On the bottom left of the stamp we have the GPS co-ordiantes that show the location where the Apollo 10 shuttle is housed. The upper right is the time and date of this event. The crew names Stafford, Young and Cernan are included and the quote “LOOKING GREAT HERE. YOU’RE LOOKING BEAUTIFUL” is from Charles M. Duke Jr, a member of the astronaut support crew for Apollo 10.
Our seventh stamp features the first footprint made by humanity on a body other than Earth. Included on the left are the exact coordinates of the landing site on the Moon. The mission was on schedule and the numbers on the upper right reflect the exact date and time the first of the five F-1 engines ignited. The crew names Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins are also featured and the quote is Neil Armstrong’s famous words, “THAT’S ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND.”
Our eighth stamp features a view on the surface of the Moon of equipment from Apollo 12, alongside equipment left from Surveyor 3, a previous Moon mission. Surveyor 3 conducted experiments to see how the lunar surface would fare against the weight of an Apollo lunar module. Included on the left of the stamp are the exact coordinates of the landing site of Apollo 12 on the Moon and on the upper right we have the time and date of the Apollo 12 lift-off. Included are the crew names Conrad, Gordon, and Bean and the quote is from Bean who stated “WE KNEW IT WAS GOING TO BE DIFFICULT. WE DIDN’T KNOW HOW DIFFICULT.”