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Grand Bahama Island
ETR/Tracking Station Covers
for Apollo 11

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THE APOLLO 11 TRACKING STATION COVERS ON THIS PAGE:
Apollo 11 Launch
Apollo 11 Moonlanding with Recovery Date
Apollo 11 Moonlanding Special


A little information about my participation in the U.S. space program: I went to work for the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) Service Company at the Missile Test Project (MTP) with headquarters at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida in October 1956.

I hired in as an electronic technician to work on the MTP and the Atlantic Missile Range (AMR), this later became known as the Eastern Test Range (ETR). I was specifically hired to work at the down range tracking stations. These were located in the Bahamas, the Caribbean, the British West Indies and points south.

My work was in the section known as “Timing and Telemetry” where we gathered real time information from launched missiles and spacecraft that was used to improve their performance and design and also tracked the manned space programs receiving vital information on the condition of the astronauts and their spacecraft.

My interest and knowledge of what tracking station covers were, was limited during the Mercury Program days because this was a new field of collecting, but as I learned, I began to collect tracking station covers from the stations around the world and also prepared covers from the tracking stations where I worked, for myself and for trading for the Gemini Program. Later I began servicing tracking station covers for the Apollo Program for individual collectors who sent covers to the tracking station at Grand Bahama Island.

Figure 1, Apollo 11 Launch
Apollo 11 launch, GBI/ETR Tracking Sta.
Cover cancelled on Launch: 16 April 1969

For the Apollo 11 flight I wanted to do something special and issue tracking station covers for the 2 main events, launch and moon landing. If collectors sent in only one cover it was serviced for the launch, if they sent in more than one cover, the extra covers were divided up to be serviced for the launch and moon landing events unless they specifically said they wanted all launch covers.

The Apollo 11 launch covers that I serviced for collectors from the ETR Grand Bahama Tracking station (shown above) features 3 different rubber stamps: a countdown Apollo 1969, an Apollo capsule and the ATA (American Topical Association) Space Unit logo plus appropriate rubber stamp text cachets reading: “ETR Grand Bahama Tracking Station” and another one reading: “Apollo 11 First Manned Lunar Landing”.

While I lived on the tracking station/base facility, and had no means of transportation I was fortunate to give the serviced covers to a co-worker who lives in Freeport, some 30 miles away, (which is the closest Bahamian postoffice), and they were delivered in time for the covers to receive the launch date. Some serviced covers which had US postage on them were dropped in the base mailbox and were delivered by aircraft to the Patrick Air Force Base postoffice the next day, 17 July 1969.

Figure 2, Apollo 11 Moonlanding with Recovery Date
Apollo 11 Moonlanding, GBI/ETR Tracking Sta.
Cover cancelled on splashdown date: 24 July 1969

The moonlanding cover (shown above) were serviced and has an identical rubber stamp text cachets as the launch covers but shows the lunar module and an astronaut on the moon and the cachet was dated Jul 20, 1969. July 20 fell on a Sunday, and covers were again delivered to the Freeport postoffice, however I was not fortunate to find someone to deliver the covers for postmarking on 21 July, and the covers were eventually delivered and received a postmark of 24 July (the recovery date) or 25 July. Again serviced covers which had US postage on them were dropped in the base mailbox and were delivered by aircraft to the Patrick Air Force Base postoffice on Monday, 21 July 1969.

Figure 3, Apollo 11 Moonlanding Special
Apollo 11 Moonlanding Special, GBI/ETR Tracking Sta.
Cover cancelled 23 July, 3 days after the Moonlanding.

I wanted to do a special moonlanding cover for my own collection and for those friends who I have been trading covers with over the years. This cover (shown above) was issued in a very limited quantity, and has the identical rubber stamp text cachets as on the launch covers, but has a 6 cent US Apollo 8 moon stamp affixed and locally cancelled with the "Countdown Apollo 1969" cancel dated Jul 20 with an astronaut figure cachet touching the stamp. The cachet also has the ATA (American Topical Association) Space Unit logo. This packet of covers was delivered to the Freeport Bahama postoffice at the same time the larger packets of covers shown in Figure 2, were delivered. I think the postoffice divided up the cover packets and cancelled the smaller packet on 23 July, and the other packets on two different days of 24 and 25 July.



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