If I was ever unsure whether or not I was my parent’s real daughter (I mean – it’s VERY clear in many ways, but you know, for the sake of coming up with a better introduction to this article…), then finding out that my dad owns a very exciting collection with genuine space memorabilia had to be the moment that wiped all of the doubt away, haha!
Over the past years, I’ve found one of the passions from my childhood, that frankly I’d totally forgotten about, has resurfaced: anything to do with SPACE TRAVEL.
I remember loving science museums as a kid. Learning about space travel. The possibility of the existence of alien life (thank you Fox Mulder and Dana Scully)… Yes, I still have a set of alien-shaped cutlery at my parent’s house. And I am proud of it, but that is not the point of this article, so let’s move on.
What I didn’t realize until recently, is that my passion for space travel wasn’t just something that I had come up with myself. It was actually something my father was passionate about when he was a little boy.
**PPPGGSSSSSHHHH** (< this is the sound of my mind being blown)
In this article, I’m documenting all the space memorabilia that my dad, and myself as well, own. I’ll be adding to this list in the future as well, so come back soon if you’re curious!
Perhaps one day I might even be able to add some flown space memorabilia to the list. For now, I’ll stick to the space and astronaut collectibles that won’t cost me a small fortune!
MY DAD’S SPACE MEMORABILIA
SHARED PASSION FOR SPACE TRAVEL
On one of my recent visits to my parents we got talking about NASA, space travel and astronauts …as you do with your parents… right?
Turns out, as a kid growing up in the exciting time of the Space Shuttle programs and people plopping onto the moon and more of that good old-fashioned exploration, my dad was a HUGE fan of John H. Glen Jr, a United States Marine Corps aviator, engineer, businessman and politician… but most importantly to my father: an astronaut.
In fact, he was the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth, circling it three times in 1962 as the pilot of the Project Mercury Friendship 7 Mission with NASA (the first manned space program of the United States). It made him the 5th ever person and 3rd American in space!
Even though Glenn resigned from NASA in 1964, he went back to space as a pilot of the Discovery space shuttle’s STS-95 mission in 1998, making him also the oldest person to fly in space and the only person to fly in both the Mercury and Space Shuttle programs. Dude!
No wonder he got into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1990, after being the last surviving member of the Mercury Seven. He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, before passing away at the grand age of 95 in 2016.
#001 – Astronaut Memorabilia: John H. Glenn, Jr. Record
One of the cool objects related to Glen my dad collected was this small record, on which you can hear the authentic recording from Cape Canaveral during the Mercury mission with the voice of John H. Glenn while in orbit.
#002 – Astronaut Autograph: Neil Armstrong
Now, something you might not know about the ’60s, was that there wasn’t something like… you know… mobile phones… or the internet and all that nonsense.
No, in order for people to communicate, you’d have to read newspapers, books and magazines, and (perhaps even more shocking to some of you young people out there) …write letters!
And that’s exactly what my dad did. He wrote letters. To astronauts. To NASA. Because he could. And it was the sixties.
Who knew that he’d actually get a response too?
Unfortunately, my dad never got anything from his hero John Glen, as by the time my dad was old enough to care about astronauts (17 years old in 1963), Glen was already a pretty popular guy.
But guess who wasn’t so famous yet and DID take the time to respond?
NEIL FLIPPING ARMSTRONG!
(not sure that’s his actual nickname, but let’s roll with it for now)
Yes, on January 22 1963, my dad received a typed letter, on official Houston Space Center paper, dated and signed by Neil Armstrong.
Armstrong was then 33 years old and 6 years away from becoming pretty much the most famous guy on earth when he landed on the moon in 1969.
The letter says:
Your recent holiday greeting is most appreciated, for to know that people not known to me personally are interested in my appointment as an astronaut trainee makes me aware of their enthusiasm for the manned space flight research program.
Please accept the enclosed autographed photograph in appreciation of your thoughtful gesture.
Neil A. Armstrong.
**TEARS IN MY EYES PEOPLE!**
As you may or may not know, Neil Armstrong used to pretty much autograph everything & the kitchen sink after he became famous, until 1993 when he found out people were selling his autographs for a lot of money, so he stopped doing it all-together.
But my dad has one.
Or I have one now, because of course I kindly offered to keep good care of it in my own personal space-museum (aka my home office, haha). I’m sure I will never sell it in my life, but frame it instead!
TIP: Read some cool Neil Armstrong and other Astronaut Quotes >
#003 – Astronaut Autograph: L. Gordon Cooper
Now while you can’t really top a signed letter from Neil Armstrong in my opinion and while my dad never got a response from Glenn himself, he did receive another letter from one of his Mercury mission colleagues, Leroy Gordon “Gordo” Cooper Jr.
L. Gordan Cooper was an American aerospace engineer, test pilot, United States Air Force pilot, and the youngest of the seven original astronauts in Project Mercury, the first human space program of the United States.
In 1963 Cooper piloted the longest and last Mercury spaceflight, Mercury-Atlas 9. During that 34-hour mission he became the first American to spend an entire day in space, the first to sleep in space, and the last American launched on an entirely solo orbital mission.
The letter reads:
Just a short note to advice you that your holiday greetings reached me, and that I certainly enjoyed hearing from you. I hope your holidays are filled with as much happiness as mine were.
It is indeed heartwarming to be remembered during the holidays by so many wonderful people. Again, thank you for your thoughtful gesture.
L. Gordon Cooper
#004 – NASA Collectibles and Memorabilia
Besides these two amazing autographs, my dad showed me much more amazing items, such as a thick envelope from NASA with information brochures of their launch vehicles and facilities, as well as mission patch stickers from various missions.
My dad was under the impression that he also owned some real fabric mission patches and a replica of the silver mission pin that astronauts get from NASA when they return from space (which he had his jeweler-brother custom made from a photo) … but we couldn’t find those, so that has to remain a story for another time.
#005 – Newspapers Covering Space Missions
My dad also collected quite a lot of newspapers from all over the world, covering space missions and of course the moon landing in 1969.
Apparently, some of the Russian newspapers that are part of this collection were a bit obscure back in the days and my father had to make an effort to get them!
#006 – Dutch Space Memorabilia
Of course being Dutch, my father also owns quite a lot of Dutch-language mementos related to space, such as Dutch National Geographic Issues covering space travel and this record below with space stories in Dutch.
There is much more to add to this list, so I will take some time soon to add everything else as well.
WEBSITES TO FIND SPACE MEMORABILIA FOR SALE
If you’re looking for Apollo 11 memorabilia and other NASA memorabilia for sale, I recommend checking out the following websites:
TO BE CONTINUED…
I think that with my enthusiasm for this initial find, it’s safe to say that I now fully understand my dad’s obsession for space travel and that I’m happy to tell him, I will definitely continue his hobby and expand his collection of memorabilia!
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