Passionate stamp collectors, history buffs and flying enthusiasts gathered in Dayton, Ohio, on May 4, 2011, where the United States Postal Service proudly issued a Mercury Project/MESSENGER Mission pair of commemorative stamps. These ”Forever" priced stamps are available for 44 cents each.
The First Day of Sale commemorative stamp ceremony was held at Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park’s Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center. The event was hosted by a park partner, the National Aviation Heritage Area.
One stamp commemorates the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Project Mercury, the United States’ first manned spaceflight program, and NASA astronaut Alan Shepard's historic flight on May 5, 1961, aboard the spacecraft Freedom 7.
The other stamp draws attention to NASA's unmanned MESSENGER mission, a scientific investigation of the planet Mercury. On March 17, 2011, MESSENGER became the first spacecraft to enter into orbit around Mercury.
Befitting the legacy of the Wright brothers, who first sustained flight in a heavier-than-air flying machine, these two historic missions - Shepard's Mercury flight and MESSENGER's orbit of Mercury - frame a remarkable fifty-year period in which the United States has advanced space exploration through more than 1,500 manned and unmanned flights.