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Author Topic:   Rarest astronaut autographs of them all
Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-14-2002 10:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the rarest of them all? With all due apologies to Snow White, who would you rank as the scarcest of autographs among astronauts and cosmonauts? Bob McLeod shares his Top 15 choices in this illustrated guide.

Read the article here: The rarest of them all

And then provide your feedback below...

Aztecdoug
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posted 05-14-2002 12:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I loved the article. It is an interesting topic and very well done overall.

My two bits?

Include the X-15 pilots. They did go into space. I understand from my reading that they were even weightless during a portion of their flight.

Let me amend my statement... All the X-15 pilots were not certified as astronauts. Only the ones that went over 50 miles high. (Now I understand the edge of space is considered 62 miles, which sounds a lot like 100 Km. Sounds like a metric adjustment to the rules.)

Cliff Lentz
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posted 05-14-2002 12:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cliff Lentz   Click Here to Email Cliff Lentz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great article! One name that is missing just screamed out at me. Since most of the fifteen have passed away, where does Gus Grissom figure in the equation. I know he was around for a while, but everything I read about Gus's temperment leads me to believe he wasn't all that collector friendly. Maybe 16th.

sts205cdr
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posted 05-14-2002 01:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sts205cdr   Click Here to Email sts205cdr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very interesting article. As far as X-15 pilots are concerned, I would think that Joe Walker should be considered (an astronaut by FAI definition), but I don't know how scarce his autograph may be.

spaceflori
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posted 05-14-2002 02:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceflori   Click Here to Email spaceflori     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cool idea and article!

Definetely agree with Dobrowolsky and Patsaev though I think there are some real autographs in existence - I seem to remember Superior once at least had a kind of logbook signed by Patsaev.

I personally would put Steve Thorne as number 1, too. He's by far rarer than any of the other before him or how many have you seen in the past 10 years?

Have even seen more Dobrowolsky's and Patsaev's (taking they are real) and Levchenko (there is usually at least 1-2 flown covers in each Superior sale).

If we add the X-15 guys, Walker is another
#1 or Adams.

Aztecdoug
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posted 05-14-2002 02:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am not aware of the signing habits of Walker and Adams. But, he was killed on his Astro qualifying flight. I think that was his 7th flight in the X-15.

Walker sadly perished when his F-104 got caught in the XB-70s wing tip vortex and rolled over the top of the XB-70 causing that plane to crash too. Cross perished in the XB-70 while the Pilot, Al White did eject safely.

apollo11lem5
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posted 05-14-2002 03:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for apollo11lem5   Click Here to Email apollo11lem5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great Job Bob! It brought rushing back to me my nearly impossible search for most of the names you mentioned. They were all very tough indeed.

The only omission that I thought of right away was X-15 pilot Mike Adams. He continues to evade many collections. I have had only two in all my years of collecting.

I currently have only an 8x10 signed photo since I foolishly let a signed X-15 cover from November of 1967 go in a desire to help another collector.

Mike Zolotorow
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posted 05-14-2002 07:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Zolotorow   Click Here to Email Mike Zolotorow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a wonderful article Bob!

I am honored to be able to call Bob McLeod a friend! He is an outstanding person. And has been very kind to me and my family!

Bob is a long time collector and a wealth of knowledge on all aspects of the space program as well as collecting. Every time we talk I learn something.

Seeing these examples are incredible. I'm sure I will never obtain most of them.

Thank you Bob for your hard work and the time you put into this outstanding effort!

BigWaveDave
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posted 05-14-2002 11:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BigWaveDave   Click Here to Email BigWaveDave     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Toyohiro Akiyama's (#13) autograph is available along with at least 41 other Astronauts on "The Association of Space Explorers" posters, 9th Congress,10 Congress, and 11th Congress. At only $200 to $300 each,a bargain!

Check it out on the ASE website, only about 40 of each left.

Note: He also signed on Congress 12th, although he isn't listed on the websites signature key.

WAWalsh
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posted 05-15-2002 09:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for WAWalsh   Click Here to Email WAWalsh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In connection with the article, how rare is an autographed crew photo of See and Bassett? I imagine that that crew photo collection of autographs is rarer than either Apollo I or the Challenger crew.

AeroSpace Hound
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posted 05-15-2002 02:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AeroSpace Hound   Click Here to Email AeroSpace Hound     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very interesting.

astronut
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posted 05-16-2002 12:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for astronut   Click Here to Email astronut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another great article Bob... well done!

You noted that the X-15 pilots weren't listed because they only scraped the edge of space. If this is what kept them off the list then wouldn't Chaffee, Freeman, Givens, etc. also be shunned because they didn't get into space at all? In fact much of your list including the various 51L astronauts didn't reach space. So I for one would include the Adams and Walkers as they did reach space.

Just a thought.

Bob M
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posted 05-16-2002 11:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for your nice words about my "Rarest" article. It was a lot of work, but was something I really enjoying doing.

I've always wondered what the rarest astronaut and cosmonaut autographs were (usually the ones I'm trying to find for my collection) and after putting together a list I decided an article about them for collectSPACE would be appropriate and interesting.

Most choices were no-brainers, such as the two Soyuz 11 rookies and the early deceased NASA astronauts, such as Roger Chaffee. The hard part was putting them in order of rarity.

Exhibiting only certain authentic examples of their autographs was a major concern & with help from several collectors, I feel we achieved that goal.

Excluding the several X-15 pilots who achieved astronaut wings because of their extreme high altitude flights was maybe not a good decision, but I wanted the list to include only those who underwent official spaceflight training, for orbital missions. But the X-15 pilots probably did receive what could be called spaceflight training, although I feel that they were more pilots than spacemen. I believe that most of their flights were more concerned with speed than achieving extreme altitude.

Thanks again and we certainly welcome comments and discussions on what is just one man's opinion of who the rarest of all the space voyagers' autographs are.

Philip
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posted 05-16-2002 12:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What about Russian female cosmonauts Tereshkova and Savitskaya? Turned politicians they stopped signing!

Aztecdoug
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posted 05-16-2002 01:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bob, that was a great article. I can't imagine all the work you put into it. It was very interesting and I am sure everyone got a kick out of it. Again, great job!

lawdog
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posted 05-18-2002 01:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lawdog   Click Here to Email lawdog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bob, great article, but I have to agree with several other replies as well concerning the X-15 pilots. Walker and Adams should be in there somewhere.

Don't forget, if it weren't for the X-15 program, none of the Astronaut names would be on your list. As you know, this was the start of our attempt to find a craft to go into space!

apollo11lem5
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posted 05-18-2002 07:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for apollo11lem5   Click Here to Email apollo11lem5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While looking through my collection today, I noticed another "headache giving rarity" that threw me for a loop for years. The man that is now officially recognized as "America's first black African-American astronaut." Major Robert H. Lawrence Jr. is a major rarity in his own right. It took me 10 years of searching to locate a signed photo of Major Lawrence (MOL/Dyna-Soar)! He was and is very difficult!

Bob M
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posted 05-19-2002 04:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's the problem with writing an article like this, there are just so many knowledgeable people out there and certainly many with more knowledge about certain things than myself. It's hard to write such an article without an error or without overlooking something. I completely overlooked the quite worthy MOL astronauts, plus the X-20 Dyna-Soar astronauts. But a line had to be drawn somewhere, but I may have drawn it not quite in the right place.

But if I included the MOL astronauts (several rare) and the X-20 Dyna-Soar astronauts (several rare), plus 2-3 rare X-15 pilots, then the top 15 would have been mostly unflown early astronauts and MOL, X-15 and X-20 astronauts! Plus the eight unflown early cosmonauts also were mentioned, and are quite worthy, too. Including all of these worthy pioneer astronauts/cosmonauts would have caused the list to have gotten out of hand and would have had to include maybe 20-30 names to be fair.

Probably about as rare or rarer than Levchenko (#3), for example, are X-20 Dyna-Soar pilot Russell Rogers (died in '67); X-15 pilot Mike Adams; and MOL astros Robert Lawrence & James Taylor (died in 1970). Jack McKay is rare, as is still-living Al Crews (X-20 and MOL), a notorious non-signer.

Maybe I drew the line slightly in the wrong place, but I wanted it to favor those who were chosen and trained for orbital flight (but which certainly includes the MOL astronauts). In retrospect, I probably should have included the X-15 pilots and maybe the MOL and X-20 pilots, but the list would have been quite different & would have overly favored the US space program too much.

Gkitman
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posted 05-31-2002 01:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gkitman   Click Here to Email Gkitman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While an interesting article, you are inconsistent in your definition of astronaut, 'spaceflight training', etc.

Several of the astronauts listed never flew and some never actually trained for a space mission. Some flew, but never made it to orbit or even into space (51L). Some were trained and flew into space according to world recognized terminology (some X-15 pilots), but were not included in the listing.

Bob M
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posted 06-03-2002 03:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm glad you found my "Rarest" article interesting and I guess I should be flattered that your very first collectSPACE posting was about my article.

You stated that I was inconsistant in my definition of "astronaut" and "spaceflight training" - perhaps I was. You also state, some in my rarest 15 listing never flew, or made it to orbit, or even trained for a spaceflight - can't deny all that! But their qualifications and experience had nothing to do with those selected for the rarest listing, as pointed out in my article.

Those considered for the rarest 15 autographs had only to undergo official spaceflight training (officially selected to undergo spaceflight training), regardless of whether or not they ever flew in space (11 did not), made it to orbit, or were selected for an actual crew.

With there being at least 900 individuals who have been selected for spaceflight training, and with many of the early cosmonauts' autographs unknown or unverifiable, a line had to be drawn somewhere. It was drawn to include all NASA Astronauts thru Group 15 and all flown cosmonauts (the two unflown 51-L non-NASA Astronauts were also included). I decided to exclude X-15 pilots because they were never selected or trained for orbital spaceflight - a qualification that all of my rarest 15 met (Granted, all 12 X-15 pilots could fly circles around many of my rarest 15).

We've asked others to list their rarest 15; this would be a good opportunity for you, Gkitman, to list yours.

mark f
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posted 08-11-2002 04:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mark f   Click Here to Email mark f     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great article but what about doing one for the non-signers at NASA at the moment? Also what about Jay Dunlap of STS-90, one of a shortlist of four but not selected. How does he figure on your list. Needless to say he is in my collection but should he be?

lewarren
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posted 08-11-2002 07:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lewarren   Click Here to Email lewarren     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's Alex Dunlap (he and Chiaki Mukai were back-ups for STS-90). Jay Buckey and Jim Pawelczyk were selected to fly.

Bob M
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posted 08-11-2002 07:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Certainly there are a number of back-up and alternate Space Shuttle Payload Specialists whose autographs are seldom seen and could possibly be considered rare. Alex Dunlap is one, as mentioned, and there are certainly others.

As far as current NASA Astronaut non-signers, from my experiences, there are a good many - too many. But we decided not to include any of the NASA Astronauts from the last three NASA Astronaut Groups or Classes in the "Rarest of Them All" listing. But if we had, the following would certainly have been considered. GROUP 16: Yvonne Cagle, Edward Fincke and C.J. "Gus" Loria (more difficult now since he's left NASA), GROUP 17: Gregory Chamitoff, Patricia Hilliard-Robertson's signed portraits are not common, Gregory C. Johnson, Leland Melvin, Alan Poindexter, Steve Swanson, and Sunita Williams, Group 18: Dominic "Tony" Antonelli, Steve Bowen and Douglas Hurley.

Of course, some collectors have had thru the mail successes with some of those above, but generally, the astronauts listed above are not cooperative about responding to requests for their autographs thru the mail. For example, someone asked Ed Fincke in person if he signs through the mail and he stated that he never has. And some of the others, such as Sunita Williams, possibly haven't either.

But astronauts change their signing policies and it works both ways - some who haven't signed, start, and some that signed well, stop. So it is certainly a good idea to try for the "non-signers," as they may decide to start signing - maybe after they are assigned to a flight.

eurospace
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posted 08-12-2002 09:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for eurospace   Click Here to Email eurospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Bob M:
C.J. "Gus" Loria (more difficult now since he's left NASA)
Are you sure about this, Bob? I see Gus Loria scheduled for an upcoming shuttle mission.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-12-2002 09:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Loria removed himself from STS-113 last week -- "personal and professional reasons." He will reportedly attend Harvard this fall and then return to NASA but not necessarily as an astronaut. Paul Lockhart has taken his place as STS-113 pilot.

eurospace
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posted 08-13-2002 03:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for eurospace   Click Here to Email eurospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the background, Robert.

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