America's "forgotten" astronautsAir Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory Program Launch Cover Signed by Five Astronauts. A very rare philatelic cover with a colorful Swanson Space-Craft cachet, cancelled November 3, 1966, at Cape Canaveral for the launch of OPS 0855 / Titan IIIC-9. This was the first and only launch in the M.O.L. program and carried a number of research payloads. The program was designed for astronauts to spend up to forty days in space carrying out military reconnaissance and was eventually cancelled in 1969 when it was decided that unmanned satellites could achieve the same objectives. This M.O.L. program had selected and trained its own group of astronauts, five of whom have signed this cover:
James Abrahamson (1933- ): signed "J. Abrahamson/ Manned Orbiting Laboratory- Maj Gen/ U.S.A.F.", later served as associate director at NASA.
Alfred Atwell (1929-2013): signed "Al Atwell", research test pilot, chosen in 1963 as military astronaut.
John Finley (1935-2006): signed "Jack Finley", a Navy aviator selected as a military astronaut in 1965.
Robert Herres (1932-2008): signed "Bob Herres", promoted to full General in 1984 and selected in 1987 as the first Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Francis Neubeck (1932- ): signed "F. Gregory Neubeck", test pilot, chosen in MOL group one.
First item from this program offered by Heritage. Very fine.
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