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Apollo Soyuz Test Project (ASTP)
The Culmination of 13 years talking

by John Macco
November 15, 2008

Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP)
The Apollo Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) was the culmination of 13 years of talks between the United States and Soviet Union. ASTP was formally provided for in the agreement concerning Cooperation in Exploration and Use of Outer space signed by President, Richard Nixon and Soviet premier, Aleksey Kosygin in Moscow on May 24, 1972. Although used unofficially after the May Summit, ASTP did not become the official designation for the joint flight until June 30, 1972. A primary objective was designed to test the compatibility of rendezvous and docking systems for American and Soviet spacecraft, to open the way for international space rescue as well as future joint manned flights.
The U.S. ASTP crew was announced on January 30, 1973. The cover illustrated was autographed by the U.S. Prime crew of Tom Stafford, Vance Brand and Deke Slayton as well as Program Director, Chester Lee and Technical Director, Glynn Lunney.

In preparation for the mission, many tests on the spacecraft and launch vehicle were performed. The flight controllers also trained in Houston and Moscow. One test a Joint Control Center Simulation which took place May 13-19, 1975. Illustrated cover was autographed by Flight Director, Don Puddy.

Two command/service module tests took place on December 19, 1974 and January 16, 1975. Illustrated are covers for these tests autographed by KSC Director of Spacecraft Operations, John J. Williams and the U.S. Backup crew of Alan Bean, Jack Lousma and Ron Evans.

Rollout of the SA-210 ASTP launch vehicle took place on March 24, 1975. The illustrated cover was carried on the ASTP Saturn-1B Rollout on Mobile Launcher Platform #1 on 'B' level. Cover was postmarked next day as KSC post office closes at 3:00 PM.

After rollout, The Saturn-1B launch vehicle underwent an Overall Test on May 15, 1975 to verify compatibility and proper operation of all launch vehicle and ground support equipment. Illustrated cover was autographed by KSC Director of Launch Vehicle Operations, Ike Rigell.

The final launch vehicle test was the Countdown Demonstration Test (CDDT) which started June 25, 1975 and ended with a simulated launch on july 2, 1975. Illustrated covers marking start and end of the CDDT were autographed by ASTP Chief Test Supervisor, Bill Schick.

The Russian ASTP Soyuz-19 spacecraft was launched at 8:20 AM EDT and the U.S. ASTP spacecraft was launched at 3:50 PM EDT July 15, 1975. Illustrated U.S. launch cover was autographed by both prime crews. The U.S. ASTP crew splashdown in the Pacific Ocean took place on July 24, 1975.

Many countries commemorated ASTP with stamps. Illustrated is a an interesting first day cover from Russia, autographed by Program Manager Chester Lee and Deputy Program Manager, Bob Aller, as well as by the 5 crewmen depicted on the cover.

If anybody wants further information on collecting space stamps and covers, you can access the Space Unit website Space Unit Website or email me at John Macco with Stamporama in subject line with your snail mail address and I'll send you with no obligation a Space Unit membership application and sample copy of our journal: The Astrophile.

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