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Mail by Missile


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Smithsonian National Postal Museum curator Nancy A. Pope tells the fascinating and weird story of "missile mail," a Cold War era mail experiment.

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Mail by Missile

  1. 1. Nancy A. Pope, Curator of Postal Operations Smithsonian National Postal Museum
  2. 2. The National Postal Museum is located in the old Post Office building next to Union Station in Washington, D.C. The museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except December 25. Admission is free.
  3. 3. [The Soviets will be] dropping bombs on us from space like kids dropping rocks onto cars from freeway overpasses. Lyndon B. Johnson, US Senate Majority Leader, 1957
  4. 4. Arthur E. Summerfield, U.S. Postmaster General
  5. 5. September 16, 1958 Regulus II fired from the U.S.S. Grayback (SSG-547) May 1, 1959 Regulus I land launch, California
  6. 6. Loading Regulus missile aboard USS Barbero at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 1960. Photograph courtesy of Ronald Phillipi
  7. 7. Loading Regulus missile aboard USS Barbero at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 1960. Photograph courtesy of Ronald Phillipi
  8. 8. Regulus I missile onboard the USS Barbero
  9. 9. Lt. Cdr. Carlos Dew, Captain of the USS Barbero and Postmaster General Summerfield watch as the Regulus I missile mail is loaded aboard the submarine.
  10. 10. One of the two Regulus I missile containers used on the June 8, 1959 flight.
  11. 11. Or
  12. 12. Postmaster General Summerfield, flanked by Navy Capt. Arnold Schade, Lt. Cdr. Carlos Drew, and Deputy Postmaster General Edson Sessions.
  13. 13. Postmaster General Summerfield and Deputy Postmaster General Sessions
  14. 14. Front and back of one of the missile mail envelopes.
  15. 15. I have been collecting First Day Covers for the past 10 years . . . Being a taxpayer and financing in part, at least, this historic firing, I feel that I should be given the opportunity to obtain one of the First Day Covers along with the other 2,999 people. John Gagliardi, Lyndhurst, NJ
  16. 16. I have enclosed 20 cents to purchase one of these covers. If that is too much money, please keep the rest as my donation to the efforts. David Skerry, Medford, MA My good friend Arthur Godfrey tells me he is quite sure if I write you personally, I would get one. Wm. C. Notmeyer, San Francisco, CA
  17. 17. I believe we will see Missile Mail developed to a significant degree before man has reached the moon. Guided missiles may ultimately provide a solution to problems of swifter mail delivery for international mails, as well as a supplementary high-priority service to big population areas. Arthur E. Summerfield, Postmaster General June 6, 1959
  18. 18.