Alan Shepard will be depicted on a 2011 U.S. postage stamp wearing the silver spacesuit in which he made history as the first American astronaut to fly into space and the fifth human to walk on the surface of the moon.
While honoring Shepard as the “First American in Space” — as the stamp’s inscription describes — the design, unfortunately, omits reference to Shepard also having been the fifth out of only 12 men to the walk on the moon.
The stamp’s design, which was quietly released last month by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), shows Shepard from his shoulders up centered between images of his rocket lifting off and his capsule above the Earth.
Opposite the astronaut’s portrait on an adjoining stamp, an artist’s rendering shows NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft orbiting the planet Mercury. The two US Postage stamps are timed to coincide with MESSENGER becoming the first spacecraft to enter orbit about Mercury on March 18, 2011 and the 50th anniversary of Shepard’s Mercury-Redstone 3 flight on May 5. The stamps are the first space-themed releases by the USPS in more than a decade.