US Postal Service Celebrates Apollo 11 Moon Landing with 'Forever' Stamps

On July 19, 2019, the U.S. Postal Service will release stamps marking the Apollo 11 moon landing.
On July 19, 2019, the U.S. Postal Service will release stamps marking the Apollo 11 moon landing. (Image credit: U.S. Postal Service)

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will issue some very special stamps to celebrate the first moon landing 50 years ago.

On July 19, 2019 — the day before that historic anniversary — USPS will issue two new "forever stamps" to honor the Apollo 11 landing, which saw astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descend safely to the surface.

Forever stamps are a USPS concept created in 2007. The service calls them "non-denominational" postage for first-class service, meaning that if the first-class postal rate increases after the customer purchases the stamps, the buyer can still use the same stamps.

Related: Apollo 11 at 50: A Complete Guide to the Historic Moon Landing Mission

Each of the two new stamp designs shows an image representing the Apollo 11 landing. The first is based on Armstrong's iconic photograph of Aldrin — and his own reflection — during one of their moon walks. The other shows a photograph of the moon, with the Apollo 11 landing site marked with a yellow dot. Both stamps were designed by Antonio Alcalá, the art director for USPS. 

To mark the release, the stamps will be free on July 19 for any visitors to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex's Apollo/Saturn V Center (which requires a short bus ride from the main complex hub) at 11 a.m. EDT. USPS also plans to broadcast live on NASA Television from the Kennedy Space Center and other "remote locations" later in the day. 

When Apollo 11 launched, USPS had arranged for a stamped envelope to fly with the astronauts, so that they could postmark it on the moon. But Aldrin and Armstrong forgot to do so until after they headed back home, according to a 2013 Space.com article

USPS finally got its "moon mail" during Apollo 15 in August 1971, when commander David Scott postmarked an envelope during his third and last excursion on the lunar rover. USPS, from a distance of 238,000 miles (383,000 kilometers) away from Scott, issued the same stamps on Earth. 

This "moon mail" was different from another set of stamps the Apollo 15 crew postmarked without NASA's knowledge. When a dealer began to sell the envelopes, the agency changed its rules about what astronauts could take with them during spaceflights, according to collectSPACE.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. The video in this story was provided by Rod Pyle.  

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace