Newest Forever Stamp Honors the Mission of the James Webb Space Telescope
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service debuted its newest Forever stamp at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., Thursday morning. The stamp honors the mission to explore the unknown in our universe with an image of the James Webb Space Telescope.
Just months after NASA released full-color images and spectra sent back from the telescope, the newest stamp illustrates the complex science instrument’s observatory.
The Postal Service has printed 30 million of these stamps, which were already available on pre-order.
“The James Webb Space Telescope orbits the sun about a million miles away from our planet. Now it will travel the United States mail system, with the launch of this new Forever stamp,” Anton Hajjar, U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors vice chairman, who served as the dedicating official, said at the stamp’s release event.
“The Webb telescope is sending truly astounding images, I’m sure you will agree! The telescope itself, which we celebrate in this stamp, is an engineering marvel, decades in the making.”
Hajjar was joined by Robert D. Cabana, NASA associate administrator and former astronaut; Ellen R. Stofan, undersecretary for science and research at the Smithsonian Institution; Lee Feinberg, optical telescope element manager for the Webb telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; Erin Smith, Webb telescope deputy observatory project scientist at NASA Goddard and Elliot Gruber, director of the National Postal Museum.
“When anyone who uses these stamps looks at this telescope, I want them to see what I see — its incredible potential to reveal new and unexpected discoveries that help us understand the origins of the universe, and our place in it,” Cabana said. “This telescope is the largest international space science program in U.S. history, and I can’t wait to see the scientific breakthroughs it will enable in astronomy.”
Despite the buzz surrounding never-before-seen images of the complex universe provided by the telescope and released by NASA in July 2022, the stamp itself, designed by art director Derry Noyes, actually features an existing digital illustration by James Vaughan created from an image provided by NASA/Space Telescope Science Institute of Webb against a background of stars.
The selvage around each set of stamps showcases a sharp image of a star, captured by the telescope early in its mission while getting set up in space and confirming the precise alignment of its 18 hexagonal mirror segments.
The James Webb Space Telescope stamp is being issued as a Forever stamp in panes of 20. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.
Kate can be reached at [email protected]