February 24, 2016 – The U.S. Postal Service has released a new, one-ounce, international-rate stamp, The Moon Forever. Issued at the price of $1.20, this Global Forever stamp can be used to mail a one-ounce letter to any country to which U.S. First-Class Mail International service is available.
As with all Global Forever stamps, this stamp will have a postage value equivalent to the price of a single-piece First-Class Mail International one-ounce machinable letter in effect at the time of use. To distinguish this stamp from other Forever stamps, the shape of the international stamp is round and bears the words “Global Forever.” The Moon features a detailed photograph of the full Moon, capturing the brilliant surface of Earth’s only natural satellite.
The Moon is a fitting choice for a Global Forever commemorative stamp, because exploration of the Moon has always been an international endeavor. Even though the Apollo program was led by the U.S., analyses of its valuable lunar samples involved scientists from around the world from the first day samples were returned to Houston. The spirit of that international endeavor has continued over the past half century, during which a growing number of nations have reached lunar orbit and landed on the lunar surface.
There is a growing realization that the Moon is the best and most accessible place to explore the origin and evolution of the solar system. As capabilities — such as NASA’s Orion crew vehicle, its Space Launch System, and ESA’s Orion service module — are being constructed for flights beyond low-Earth orbit, mission concepts that utilize those capabilities are being developed.
In support of the multi-agency International Space Exploration Coordination Group, which has been pursuing a Global Exploration Roadmap, human-assisted robotic sample return missions are being studied. One of those concepts, called HERACLES, could return to Earth exciting new samples that test fundamentally important concepts, such as an early globally-magmatic phase for Earth and the Moon and a subsequent period of severe asteroid and comet bombardment that completely resurfaced Earth and the Moon immediately prior to our earliest evidence of life on Earth.
An international group of students recently helped design two potential traverses for the rover in the HERACLES mission concept and will be presenting those results at the upcoming international Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in March. The Moon remains a guiding light for space exploration.