The adventures of Man's flight and the Conquest of Space have always aroused great fascination in Men's minds.
Through his creative stories with winged myths and later with Science and the invention of "flying machines", Man has chased after his "dream of flying" and there have been many stages along the development of the Man-Space relationship: from the mythical dimension of Icarus and Bellerophon with Pegasus, the winged horse, and the first theories on aviation by Leonardo; the futuristic essays written by Jules Verne (the famous novel "From Earth to the Moon" - 1865) and the first human flight by the Wright brothers in 1903. Later came the first non-stop Transatlantic flight by Lindbergh in 1927 and the rocket research by Von Braun and finally the Conquest of Space with its three dates that have gone down in History of Mankind.
- 4 October 1957 - official start of the Space Age, with the launch by the Soviet Union of the first artificial satellite to orbit around the Earth, Sputnik 1.
- 12 April 1961 - start of the history of Man's flight in Space with the first human being, the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, on board the capsule Vostok 1 which orbited around the Earth.
- 20 July 1969 - Conquest of the Moon. With Apollo 11, the impossible became reality: TV viewers from all over the world saw Man's first walk on the Moon performed by the US astronaut, Neil Armstrong, who climbing down the ladder, a step away from the Moon surface, pronounced the historic phrase "This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for Mankind".
Philately has always had a close relationship with Space, regarded as a distance, as a protagonist, and post is the best witness of its history.
The origins of stamps and their collecting have their own "raison d'être" from the birth of communications between men and from the different methods in which the "distance" has been crossed by Man (from pony mail to the various methods of land, sea and air transport) and also from the awareness of the importance of preserving testimonies of Human Conquest from the present and the past.
Air-philately, the forerunner of Spacemail and considered one of the most classic sectors of stamp-collecting with its own specialisations from the "Ballons Montés" (aero-static balloons used in Paris to send post during the Siege in 1870 by the Prussians) to the Zeppelin airships (so-called after their inventor, the pioneer Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin), the great Transatlantic liners and the first direct plane connections, has clearly documented the glorious events in the history of human aviation, which, after having achieved his terrestrial objectives, directly aimed towards the Cosmos until reaching the furthermost destinations.
Within this sector comes Astro-philately, one of the most modern and fascinating chapters which bear witness to one of the most important scientific goals in Man's history, through space letters that document space flights.
There are a number of Spacemail events and mementoes that have excited and fascinated the collectors' world for almost half a century. These include the message of the Barbero missile in 1959 and the telegram from Kruschev to Gagarin in 1961 and the mythical cancellation "MOON LANDING - 20 July 1969". Then the first docking between two Soyuz spaceships in Space with the delivery, for the first time in the world, of Earth-to-Space letters, the space letters transported to the Moon on the various spaceships used in the Apollo missions, the philatelic cancellations, the birth of the official Spacemail and the extraordinary letters written in Space, true human testimonies of "Life in Space".
Some "Space" lots and curiosities on offer at the Vaccari Auction n.73 of 12 April 2008.
The famous cover of Apollo 16 Mission