From the first day ceremony May 31: Left to right, Dr. Dan Durda; Dr. Constantine Tsang; Cindy Conrad; Alice Bowman; Dr. Alan Stern, New Horizons Principal Investigator, Southwest Research Institute; David Williams, COO and Executive VP, USPS; Dr. Ellen Stofan, NASA Chief Scientist; Dr. Jim Green, NASA Director of Planetary Science; Delontae Jenkins, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Norman Kuring, Oceanographer, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt MD. (Ceremony photographs courtesy USPS/Daniel Afzal.)
[USPS press release; NASA press release below]
NASA’s Breathtaking Planet Images Get Stamps of Approval
Pluto—Explored! and Views of Our Planets Forever Stamps Issued
NEW YORK CITY — Less than a year following NASA’s nine-year, three-billion plus mile New Horizons mission to explore Pluto, the U.S. Postal Service dedicated Forever stamps to commemorate the historic event, while dedicating a second set of stamps depicting NASA’s stunning images of our planets.
The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony for the Pluto—Explored! and Views of Our Planets Forever stamps took place before a crowd of 500 at the world’s largest stamp show that only occurs in the United States once a decade, World Stamp Show-NY 2016. The show runs through Saturday. The public is asked to share the news on social media using the hashtags #PlutoExplored and #PlanetStamps. Visit Our Planets Forever Stamps to view images of the stamps and background on the planets.
“In 1991, the Postal Service issued a Pluto: Not Yet Explored stamp that served as a rallying cry for those who very much wanted to explore it,” said U.S. Postal Service Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President David Williams in dedicating the stamps. “At the time, Pluto was still considered a planet, and it was the only one in our solar system that hadn’t been visited by a spacecraft.”
Pluto is now officially designated as a dwarf planet. The Postal Service is issuing the Pluto—Explored! Souvenir sheet as a companion to the Views of Our Planets stamp pane.
“In 2006,” Williams continued. “NASA placed a 29-cent Pluto: Not Yet Explored stamp on board the New Horizons spacecraft, which is safe to say, makes it the most widely-traveled stamp in the universe.”
The New Horizons spacecraft, launched into space on the fastest rocket ever built, traveled 3.26 billion miles at a speed exceeding 34,000 m.p.h. to reach Pluto on July 14, 2015. Placing that in perspective, it took three days for Apollo 11 to reach the moon. New Horizons passed the moon in nine hours.
The Postal Service learned of the 29-cent stamp’s journey aboard New Horizons on the eve of last July’s flyover and quickly put plans into place to set the record straight as noted in NASA’s celebratory photo.
“Now, the Views of Our Planets and Pluto—Explored! stamps will begin their own journeys today — on letters and packages to millions of homes and businesses throughout America,” added Williams. “We trust they’ll find a home in your own collections too.”
Joining Williams in the dedication were NASA Chief Scientist Dr. Ellen Stofan (right); NASA Director of Planetary Science Dr. Jim Green; Oceanographer, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, Norman Kuring, who created the Earth stamp image; and, New Horizons Principal Investigator, Southwest Research Institute, Dr. Alan Stern. Honored guests included Astronaut Dr. John Grunsfeld, a veteran of five space shuttle flights who logged 58 days in space, including more than 58 hours of spacewalk time, and Alice Bowman, New Horizons first female Mission Operations Manager.
“These breathtaking new images of Pluto and our planets make for an exciting day for NASA and for all who love space exploration,” said Green (left). “With the 2015 Pluto flyby, we’ve completed the initial reconnaissance of the solar system, and we’re grateful to the U.S. Postal Service for commemorating this historic achievement.”
“The 1991 stamp that showed Pluto ‘not yet explored’ highlighted some important, unfinished business for NASA’s first exploration of the planets of our solar system,” said Dr. Alan Stern, principal investigator for the New Horizons mission. “I’m thrilled that 25 years later, these new stamps recognize that Pluto has indeed been explored by the New Horizons spacecraft and revealed to be a complex and fascinating world.”
Forever stamps will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce price. Art director Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, VA, designed the stamps.
The Pluto—Explored! Forever stamps will only be available online at usps.com/shop or by calling 800-782-6724.
[NASA press release]
New Pluto and Planetary Stamps Wow at World Stamp Show
Breathtaking images of Pluto and the planets are getting a stamp of approval from the U.S. Postal Service, which unveiled striking new Forever stamps at the World Stamp Show NY-2016 on Tuesday.
“The issuing of these ‘Views of our Planets’ and ‘Pluto Explored’ stamps has special significance for NASA, since this represents the culmination of a half-century of space exploration,” said NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan. “With the July 14, 2015 flyby of Pluto, we’ve completed the checklist of all the classical planets and can now declare—‘mission accomplished.’”
Joining Stofan in delivering remarks were NASA’s Director of Planetary Science Jim Green, New Horizons’ Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and Norman Kuring, oceanographer at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland—creator of the iconic “Blue Marble” image of Earth.
The crowd of about 500 philatelists cheered as Stofan quipped, “I may have to stop emailing and start writing letters again.”
In dedicating the stamps, U.S. Postal Service Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President David Williams noted, “In 2006, NASA placed a 29-cent ‘Pluto: Not Yet Explored’ stamp on board the New Horizons spacecraft, which – it is safe to say – makes it the most widely-traveled stamp in the universe.”
The 45-minute ceremony was followed by an autograph session, in which speakers and VIPs signed first day of issue programs for hundreds of stamp enthusiasts—the line snaking through the hallways of the Javits Center in New York City (Photos above (USPS), left, and below (NASA)). The planetary stamps are now being sold at most U.S. post offices. The Pluto—Explored! Forever stamps are available online or by calling 800-782-6724.
“These breathtaking new images of Pluto and our planets make for an exciting day for NASA and for all who love space exploration,” said Green (left). “We’re grateful to the U.S. Postal Service for commemorating this historic achievement.”
Updated April 29th: The first day postmarks: The DCP measures 2.51” x 1.38” The pictorial measures 2.19 x 1.17”
Updated April 29th, from the Postal Bulletin:
On May 31, 2016, in New York, NY, the U.S. Postal Service® will issue the Pluto – Explored! stamps (Forever® priced at 47 cents) in two designs, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) pane of four stamps (Item 586600). The Pluto – Explored! pane of stamps may not be split, and the stamps may not be sold individually.
The stamps will go on sale nationwide May 31, 2016.
With this issuance, the U.S. Postal Service recognizes the history-making first reconnaissance of Pluto in 2015 by NASA’s New Horizons mission. The Pluto—Explored! souvenir sheet contains two new stamps (each appear twice on the sheet). The first stamp shows an artist’s rendering of the New Horizons spacecraft. The second shows the spacecraft’s striking image of Pluto taken near closest approach. The view — which is color-enhanced to highlight surface texture and composition — is a composite of four images from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager, combined with color data from the imaging instrument, Ralph. It clearly reveals the now-famous heart-shaped feature (informally called Tombaugh Regio) that measures about 1,000 miles across at its widest point. The stamp issuance includes verso text. Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the souvenir sheet.
Initial Supply to Post Offices: Item 586600, $1.88, Pluto – Explored! (Forever priced at 47 cents) Commemorative PSA Pane of Four Stamps
Stamp Fulfillment Services will not make an automatic push distribution to Post Offices™. Post Offices may begin ordering stamps prior to the FDOI through SFS Web.
How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark:
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, at The Postal Store® website at http:⁄⁄www.usps.com⁄shop, or by calling 800-782-6724. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:
Pluto – Explored! Stamps
Special Events Coordinator
380 West 33rd Street
New York, NY 10199-9998
After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service™ will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. There is a 5-cent charge for each additional postmark over 50. All orders must be postmarked by July 31, 2016.
There are nine philatelic products for this stamp issue:
- 586606, Press Sheet with Die-cut, $26.32 (print quantity 3,000)
- 586610 Keepsake, (2 panes w⁄Digital Color Postmark, set of 2), $7.95
- 586616 First-Day Cover (set of 2), $1.82
- 586618 First-Day Cover, Full Pane, $4.38
- 586619 Cancelled Full Pane, $4.38
- 586621 Digital Color Postmark (set of 2), $3.24
- 586624 Framed Art, $39.95
- 586630 Ceremony Program (random single), $6.95
- 586633 Panel, $17.95
Issue: Pluto – Explored! Stamp
Item Number: 586600
Denomination & Type of Issue: First-Class Mail Forever
Format: Souvenir Sheet of 4 (2 designs)
Issue Date & City: May 31, 2016, New York, NY 10199
Designer: Antonio Alcalá, Alexandria, VA
Art Director: Antonio Alcalá, Alexandria, VA
Typographer: Antonio Alcalá, Alexandria, VA
Modeler: Joseph Sheeran
Manufacturing Process: Offset
Printer: Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. (APU)
Printed at: Williamsville, NY
Press Type: Muller A76
Stamps per Pane: 4
Print Quantity: 15 million stamps
Paper Type: Nonphosphored Type III, Spot Tag
Adhesive Type: Pressure-sensitive
Processed at: Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. (APU)
Colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, PMS 422 C Grey
Stamp Orientation: Square
Image Area (w x h): 1.09 x 1.09 in.⁄27.56 x 27.56 mm
Overall Size (w x h): 1.23 x 1.23 in.⁄31.12 x 31.12 mm
Full Pane Size (w x h): 3.50 x 3.50 in.⁄88.90 x 88.90 mm
Press Sheet Size (w x h): 24.50 x 7.00 in.⁄622.30 x 177.80 mm
Plate Size: 196 stamps per revolution
Plate Numbers: N⁄A
Front: Header: Pluto – Explored!
Back: © 2015 USPS • USPS logo • Barcode (586600) • Promotional text • Verso text
From the USPS:
FDOI: May at the World Stamp Show – NYC 2016, Jacob Javitz Center
Format: Souvenir Sheet of 4
With this issuance, the U.S. Postal Service® recognizes the history-making first reconnaissance of Pluto in 2015 by NASA’s New Horizons mission.
This souvenir sheet contains two new stamps (each appear twice on the sheet). The first stamp shows an artist’s rendering of the New Horizons spacecraft. The second shows the spacecraft’s striking image of Pluto taken near closest approach.
The view—which is color-enhanced to highlight surface texture and composition—is a composite of four images from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), combined with color data from the imaging instrument Ralph. It clearly reveals the now-famous heart-shaped feature.
Designer and Art Director: Antonio Alcalá