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Discoverer (Corona Spy) Satellite
Launch and Recovery
Commemorative Covers
with Various Cachets



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Specific Notes for these Discoverer (Corona Spy) Satellite covers

  • On December 23, 1958, the government created a project, called Discoverer, with an acknowledged goal of scientific research: testing of returning vehicles to Earth for the recovery of occupants, instruments, films and other scientific payloads; development of an early warning system for the detection of enemy missiles; development of a stable platform for scientific observations.


  • Corona was the first operational space imaging reconnaissance satellite program, approved in February, 1958. Its' goal was to take pictures from space of the Soviet Bloc countries and return the photographic film for processing and analysis. What does Corona have to do with the Discoverer Satellite Project? read on.......


  • The entire Discoverer Project was a ruse. No scientific objectives were planned. Discoverer actually had a staff working on scientific instruments, including launching pods for space mice, but none were ever launched or intended to be launched. Discoverer Project staff did not know about Corona. The cover up was so elaborate that scientific instruments placed on Discoverer satellites were removed before the actual launch.
  • Although Corona developed recovery techniques, these were never intended as research for manned space programs. The Discoverer program was publicly classified after the launch of Discoverer 38, on December 12, 1961.
  • To learn more about the Discoverer/Corona Project, click HERE for an article written by Charles J. Vukotich, Jr.
  • Some of the covers below, (or other covers available to collectors), may not have valid information in the cachet, due to the secrecy of this series of satellites known as Discoverer's, and the misinformation provided to the public. However most cachets have few details as to the significance of the flights.
  • A few cachets below do have misinformation in the cachets such as the Discoverer 3 cover which indicates that 4 mice were aboard. Cachets for Discoverer 18 note that human tissue was aboard for radiation studies. Discoverer 22 cachets report that living tissue was in the satellite. Also the Discoverer 17 and 18 flights were reported to the public as being bios flights, having human cells, bacteria, algae and plant spores aboard, but I have never seen any Discoverer 17 cachets that list any of these facts, some of the Discoverer 18 cachets that I have seen only note that human tissue was aboard.
  • Launch covers listed here that have details about the attempts at recovery, or the recovery covers that have details about recovery operations, are true, to my knowledge.
  • Listed at the end of the price list are Corona launch covers, however the cachets do not identify them as such, the covers were issued for spy launches that was known to have occured but little information was known at the time, and dates on these covers where later matched up with Corona launch information released much later.

General Notes

  • All items are covers unless otherwise noted.
  • All covers are the standard U.S. #6 size (approximately 6 1/2 x 3 3/4 inches), as collected in the USA, unless otherwise noted.
  • Foreign covers may be slightly smaller in size than the standard U.S. #6 size and if so, their size will NOT be noted. Any cover larger than a number 6 size will be noted or any item of an unordinary size will be so noted.
  • All covers are unaddressed unless otherwise noted.
  • All covers are cacheted unless otherwise noted. A brief description of the cachet is given of the event being commemorated.
  • If covers are autographed they are genuine, unless otherwise noted.
  • Where stamp(s) used on the item are of significance, such as being a space stamp or a flag stamp or related to the event or location, it will be described. Otherwise the stamp(s) used on the item may be a definitive issue or an unrelated commemorative issue, and will not be described.
  • Items listed here may not be listed in any particular order.
  • Please print out the ON-LINE ORDER FORM and use it to mark down the covers you need. When ordering, please mark the LIST ID as well as ITEM ID.

Abbreviations

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Price List

LIST IDITEM IDPRICECANCEL DATECANCEL LOC
DISC01160R$40.0010/26/1960V
DISCOVERER 16 LAUNCH, cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 10/26/1960 on 4 cent commemorative Flag stamp. With a 2 color rubber stamp cachet (unidentified) showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and text: "Discoverer 16 Launch". Backside of cover has a 1 line word rubber stamp text cachet: "Discoverer No. 16". Label stain where large address label was.

DISC01171R$45.0011/12/1960V
DISCOVERER 17 LAUNCH, cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 11/12/1960. With a 2 color rubber stamp cachet (unidentified) showing a rocket launch from California and text: "Discoverer XVII, From Vandenberg AFB, US Air Force Space Experiments. Earth Orbit Research, USAF Thor Agena Booster. Polar Orbiting Satellite". IMAGE

DISC01172R$45.0011/12/1960V
DISCOVERER 17 LAUNCH, cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of Nov. 12, 1960. With a 2 color rubber stamp cachet (unidentified) showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and text: "Discoverer 17 Launch". Backside of cover has a 1 line word rubber stamp text cachet: "Discoverer No. 17".

DISC01175R$45.0011/14/1960V
DISCOVERER 17 CAPSULE RECOVERY Cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of Nov. 14, 1960 on a 4 cent commemorative Flag stamp. With a 2 color rubber stamp cachet (unidentified) showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and text: "Discoverer 17 Capsule Recovery". Backside of cover has a 1 line word rubber stamp text cachet: "Discoverer No. 17, third capsule recovery". There is a label stain on this cover where a large peelable label was.

DISC01176R$45.0011/14/1960V
DISCOVERER 17 CAPSULE RECOVERY Cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 11/14/1960 on a 3 cent definitive Statue of Liberty stamp. With a black rubber stamp cachet (unidentified) showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and typewritten text: "Recovery of Disc. 17". Pen addressed.

DISC01180P$50.0012/07/1960V
DISCOVERER 18 LAUNCH, cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 12/07/1960. With a black printed cachet (unidentified, but probably a Zaso or Sarzin cachet) showing a rocket photo titled "Discoverer Launch", and printed text: "Discoverer XVIII, Contained experimental spy-in-the-sky equipment of SAMOS project and various human tissues for radiation studies. Launched from Vandenberg AFB into polar orbit 7 Dec. 1960. Successfully recovered by mid-air catch near Hawaii on 10 Dec. after a record 48 orbital passes. First stage: first firing of new Thor with 165,000 pounds of thrust. Second stage: Lockheed Agena B". IMAGE

DISC01182R$45.0012/07/1960V
DISCOVERER 18 LAUNCH, cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 12/07/1960. With a 2 color rubber stamp cachet (unidentified) showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and text: "Discoverer No. 18". Typed address of J.R. Fitzpatrick, Huntington W.Va. (the owner/dealer of the famous Space Craft Cachet covers)

DISC01186R$45.0012/10/1960V
DISCOVERER 18 CAPSULE RECOVERY Cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 12/10/1960. With a 2 color rubber stamp cachet (unidentified) showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and text: "Discoverer 18". There is also a one line purple printed word text cachet: "Hot Cargo Capsule Recovery". Rubber stamp address.

DISC01187P$45.0012/10/1960V
DISCOVERER 18 CAPSULE RECOVERY Cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 12/10/1960. With a blue printed cachet (unidentified, but looks like a cachet by HF) showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and text: "Hot Cargo Capsule Recovery, from 'Valley of Flowers' Lompoc, Calif. First Day cover". (of course this is NOT a first day cover). There is also a one line red rubber stamp word text cachet: "Discoverer 18".

DISC01190R$45.0012/20/1960V
DISCOVERER 19 LAUNCH, cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 12/20/1960 on 7 cent Balloon Jupiter air mail stamp. With a blue rubber stamp cachet (unidentified) showing a rocket being launched with smoke on either side, and rubber stamp text: "Missile Launching, Vandenburg Air Force Base" plus one line of word rubber stamp text cachet in red: "Discoverer 19". Backside of cover has a 1 line word rubber stamp text cachet: "Discoverer No. 19". Typed address.

DISC01192F$45.0012/20/1960V
DISCOVERER 19 LAUNCH, Cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 12/20/1960. With a 2 color HF printed cachet showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and printed text: "Discoverer XIX, Attack Detector Orbiting.....No Recoverable Capsule. Historical Space Cover". Backside of cover has a 1 line word rubber stamp text cachet: "Discoverer No. 19".

DISC01193R$40.0012/20/1960V
DISCOVERER 19 LAUNCH, Cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 12/20/1960 on a 4 cent SEATO commemorative stamp. With a 2 color rubber stamp cachet (unidentified) showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and text: "Discoverer No. 19".

DISC01200F$35.0002/17/1961V
DISCOVERER 20 LAUNCH, Air Mail cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 02/17/1961 on on 7 cent air mail postal stationery envelope. With a purple HF printed cachet showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and printed text: "Discoverer XX, Feb. 17, 1961, Samos and Midas Equipment Test. Equipment Failure....Impossible to Return Capsule. Historical Space Cover". Red and blue border air mail envelope.

DISC01210R$25.0002/18/1961v
DISCOVERER 21 LAUNCH, Cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 02/18/1961. With a black rubber stamp cachet (unidentified) showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and text: "Discoverer No. 21".

DISC01211F$30.0002/18/1961V
DISCOVERER 21 LAUNCH, Air Mail cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 02/18/1961 on on 7 cent air mail postal stationery envelope. With a black HF printed cachet showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and printed text: "Discoverer XXI, Satellite Engine Restarted in Orbit on Command Signal from the Ground. Capsule To Be Ejected After 4 Days In Orbit. Called Off For Technical Reasons. Historical Space Cover". Red and blue border air mail envelope.

DISC01241R$25.0006/08/1961V
DISCOVERER 24 LAUNCH, Cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 06/08/1961 on a 4 cent Echo Satellite stamp (#1173). With a black rubber stamp cachet (unidentified) showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and text in purple: "Discoverer No. 24".

DISC01250R$25.0006/16/1961V
DISCOVERER 25 LAUNCH, Cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 06/16/1961 on a 4 cent Echo Satellite stamp (#1173). With a black rubber stamp cachet (unidentified) showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and text in purple: "Discoverer No. 25".

DISC01265R$35.0007/10/1961V
DISCOVERER 26 CAPSULE RECOVERY, Air Mail cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 07/10/1961. With a 2 color rubber stamp cachet (unidentified) showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and text: "Discoverer 26 Capsule Recovery". Typed Address. Red and blue border air mail envelope. SCARCE COVER.

DISC01290S$30.0008/30/1961V
DISCOVERER 29 LAUNCH, Cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 08/30/1961. With a two color SARZIN printed cachet showing a picture of a rocket launch and printed text: "Discoverer XXIX, Satellite rocket roared into orbit from Vandenburg Air Force Base August 30, 1961. It ejected a 2nd state 300 pound capsule which was recovered by the Air Force north of Honolulu". Sarzin printed address.

DISC01305R$25.0009/14/1961V
DISCOVERER 30 CAPSULE RECOVERY, Cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 09/14/1961. With a purple rubber stamp cachet (unidentified) showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and text: "Discoverer No. 30 Capsule Recovery". (This cover is for the first Discoverer capsule snagged in mid-air by C130B cargo plane). SCARCE COVER.

DISC01306F$30.0009/14/1961V
DISCOVERER 30 CAPSULE RECOVERY, Cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 09/14/1961. With a red HF printed cachet showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and printed text: "Discoverer XXX recovery, Sept. 14, 1961. Top Secret Gear Aboard. First Capsule Snagged in Mid-Air by C130B Cargo Plane. Historical Space Cover". There is also a 2 line word rubber stamp text cachet in purple on front of cover: "Discoverer No. 30, Capsule Recovery". SCARCE COVER.

DISC01310F$30.0009/17/1961V
DISCOVERER 31 LAUNCH, Air Mail cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 09/17/1961. With a purple HF printed cachet showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and printed text: "Discoverer XXXI, Sept. 17, 1961. Designed To Gain New Data on Effects of Radiation. Capsule Fails to Separate....No Recovery. Historical Space Cover". There is also a 1 line word rubber stamp text cachet in purple on front of cover: "Discoverer No. 31". Red and blue border air mail envelope.

DISC01330R$25.0010/23/1961V
DISCOVERER 33 LAUNCH, Air Mail cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 10/23/1961 on on 7 cent air mail postal stationery envelope. With a 2 color rubber stamp cachet (unidentified) showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and text: "Discoverer No. 33" and 3 lines of typed text cachet in black that reads: "Second stage of THOR rocket faile to fire, hence did not go into orbit!". Red and blue border air mail envelope. Rubber stamp address.

DISC01340R$25.0011/05/1961V
DISCOVERER 34 LAUNCH, Cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 11/05/1961. With a 2 color rubber stamp cachet (unidentified) showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and text: "Discoverer No. 34" and 2 lines of printed text cachet in blue that reads: "Discoverer XXXIV. Trouble Doomed Efforts to Recover Capsule".

DISC01350S$25.0011/15/1961V
DISCOVERER 35 LAUNCH, Cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 11/15/1961. With a two color SARZIN printed cachet showing a picture of a rocket launch and printed text: "Discoverer 35, Discoverer capsule caught in air by plane parachute of 300 pound gold plated capsule snagged on first pass by C-130 cargo plane as it parachuted down from space over tiny Hearn Island, northwest of Hawaii". Sarzin printed address.

DISC01380R$20.0002/27/1962V
DISCOVERER 38 LAUNCH, Cover has a Vandenberg Air Force Base CA machine cancel, of 02/27/1962 on 7 cent air mail postal stationery envelope. With a red rubber stamp cachet (unidentified) showing a rocket circling Earth with Moon and stars in the background and text: "Discoverer No. 38". Red and blue border air mail envelope.

DB: stats: tusd(61,26,35,0)


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