FIRST DAY COVERS
|As the Space race continued, the moon became the next goal. For this the Soviet Union needed a newer larger vehicle and thus the Soyuz space craft was designed. Unfortunately the workmanship was poor and it was rushed in to service. The pilot of the Soyuz series maiden flight, Vladimir Komarov was reluctant before the flight and even Gagarin (the backup crew) protested the readiness of the craft. The unmanned test craft had failed resulting in its destruction. Regardless on 23-April-1967 the Soyuz 1 space craft was launched (the worlds first night space launch). It was plagued with mechanical problems causing the mission to be cut short early. On re-entry the parachutes failed to open, causing the craft to be destroyed on impact. This was the first space craft fatality.
The top and centre covers are very rare, and were issued on the 1967-04-23 at the time of the mission launch.
This third cover was in memorial to Vladimir Komarov who was one of the three cosmonauts in Voskhod 1 and features his rare Voskhod 1 stamp and 24-April-1967 end of mission cancellation mark.
|This was the first successful manned Soyuz mission, piloted by Georgi Beregovoi from the 28th to 30-October-1968. The name "Soyuz" means "union" in Russian and it was always intended that the first flights involve a docking. Beregovoi was not able to dock with unmanned Soyuz 2 craft and was passed over for further flights.
This cachet features Beregovoi's image and stamp and is cancelled 14-December-1968 on the release of the stamp. Also on this image I have added below the special miniature sheet commemorating the Soyuz 3 flight.
|SOYUZ 4 and 5 - First docking between two manned craft|
|On 14-January-1969 Soyuz 4 and 5 were launched to attempt a docking and crew transfer between two manned craft. This was originally planned for the Soyuz 1 and 2 joint mission but was aborted due to all the technical issues Soyuz 1 was having.
Here are four postcards featuring the crew of the Soyuz 4 and 5 joint mission.
|Cancelled on 14-January-1969 for the launch, this is the official Soyuz 4 "Earth-Space Space-Earth" cachet.|
|This cover was cancelled for the docking of Soyuz 4 and 5 on 16-January-1969 and features a Cosmonautics days 1968 Soyuz docking stamp and a Soyuz 5 launch cachet.|
|Cancelled a week after the event on the 23-January-1969, this cover features a Soyuz 4 / 5 miniature sheet.|
|Here is an example of the Soyuz 4 and 5 commemorative postal stationary.|
|This maxicard features a mock up of the Soyuz 4 and 5 from one of the Moscow space museums and features a Soyuz stamp from the 1980s.|
|SOYUZ 6, 7 and 8|
|The flights of Soyuz 6, 7 and 8 allowed the Soviets the new first of having seven men and three craft in space at once. Although Soyuz 6 lacked the docking equipment and Soyuz 7 and 8 failed to dock, so no crew transfer could occur. This cover features the three crew stamps commemorating the joint mission.|
|Here is a very nice cover for the launch of Soyuz 6, featuring a 1967 futuristic fantasy space stamp. Thanks to Michael Storch for the use of this image.|
|This is the definitive Soyuz 6 cover with its crew stamp. The missions were from 11 to 16-October-1969 but all four of these covers are postmarked 22-October-1969 for the stamp release.|
|And here we see the definitive Soyuz 7 cover with its crew stamp.|
|Finally we have the definitive Soyuz 8 cover with its crew stamp.|
|Here is a postcard commemorating the flights of Soyuz 6, 7 and 8. It was cancelled much later on Cosmonautics day 1973 and features a 1972 Soyuz 10 / Salyut 1 stamp.|
|This first day cover is a very colourful depiction of the Soyuz 9 mission and features its own stamp cancelled 7-July-1970. Nikolayev from Vostok 3 was one of the crew on this mission, the objective of which was to test the effects of prolonged time in space before the Salyut space stations were launched.|
|Here we have a maxicard featuring an artists impression of the Soyuz 9 mission and featuring the stamp.|
|Here is another maxicard featuring an artists impression of the Soyuz 9 mission and featuring the stamp.|
|Soyuz 10 was the first flight to dock with the Salyut 1 space station. Due to technical problems with the hatch jamming the cosmonauts did not enter the space station and as fuel was short they returned to Earth without entering the space station. Further complications occurred when a poisonous gas leak caused a loss of consciousness among the crew before re-entry. They recovered but was a close call.
The cover was cancelled on the day of lift off 23-April-1971.
|This cover was issued for Soyuz 10 docking with the Salyut space station on the 24-April-1971. This was intended to be the time the first crew was to enter the worlds first operational space station, but alas it wasn't to be on this mission.|
|Soyuz 11 was the first flight to occupy the Salyut 1 space station from 6-June to 30-June-1971. Disaster struck as the separation sequence shook open an exhaust valve resulting in despressurisation killing the crew. Salyut 1 space station was never used again and de-orbited 11-October-1971.
These next three first day cover were cancelled for the mission. This one for the launch on 6th June 1971.
|Issued for the docking on the 7th June.|
|And for the missions return to Earth on the 30th June 1971 with the words "There heroic flight will always be remembered".
They were the first ever crew of a space station.
|This first day cover was in memorial to this flight and features a commemorative Soyuz 11 stamp and is cancelled in Moscow on the 20-October-1971.|
|This propaganda card was issued in 1971 with a Soyuz on a R7 rocket and featuring a 1972 15 year Sputnik launch stamp and cancellation.|
|These two maxicards feature artist impressions of the Soyuz docking with the Salyut space station. The bottom card and stamp indicate Salut-1 with a Salyut launch stamp and cancelled 10-December-1971, two months after the return of the ill fated Soyuz 11 mission. The top card features the 1972 cosmonautics day stamp, showing Salyut 1 and a Soyuz craft.|
|This is a set of cards featuring all the Soviet space crews from Vostok-1 through to Soyuz-11.|