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June 8, 1959: First and Only Delivery of USPS Mail by Missile

Posted June 07, 2012 4:59 PM by SavvyExacta

Mail sent by missile was considered to be the future; a practical method of delivering mail during the Cold War. In fact, Postmaster General Arthur E. Summerfield remarked, "Before man reaches the moon, mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California, to Britain, to India or Australia by guided missiles." On June 8, 1959, an unarmed Regulus I cruise missile was fired from the USS Barbero Navy submarine near Norfolk, Virginia to a naval station in Mayport, Florida.

The United States Postal Service (USPS, at the time known as the Post Office Department) established a branch post office on the USS Barbero. The sub left Norfolk with about 3,000 pieces of mail consisting mainly of commemorative postal covers addressed to President Dwight Eisenhower and other officials.

The mail was to be sent to Jacksonville via a Regulus cruise missile. The missile's nuclear warhead was replaced by two official mail containers. A pair of Aerojet-General 3KS-33,000 solid-propellant boosters launched the missile and a turbojet engine sustained the long-range cruise flight.

The missile was fired toward the Naval Auxiliary Air Station in Mayport at around noon. It reached its destination 22 minutes later. The mail was then sorted and routed as usual.

It was the only time a missile was used to send USPS mail. The Department of Defense considered the exercise a demonstration of missile capabilities during the Cold War. The expense could not be justified as a practical method of delivering the mail.

View the canceled envelope and one of the letters that was sent.

Resources:

Finding Dulcinea - On This Day: US Postal Service Attempts "Missile Mail" for First and Last Time

Wikipedia - Rocket mail

Wikipedia - USS Barbero (SS-317) [image]

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#1

Re: June 8, 1959: First and Only Delivery of USPS Mail by Missile

06/07/2012 5:21 PM

So, 3,000 pieces of mail, and I simply assume $0.08 per piece...

The USPS having cash troubles is nothing new.

Yes, I understand it was a demonstration. I must admit, it is pretty cool.

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#2
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Re: June 8, 1959: First and Only Delivery of USPS Mail by Missile

06/08/2012 9:52 AM

Cost of a 1959 Regulus Cruise Missile = $1,000,000 (approx)

Income to deliver 3000 pieces of mail at $0.08 each = $240

Old habits................Hmmmmmm

Agreed, it was pretty cool though

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