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NASA’s final shuttle launch marks end of collector's era

Ron DiIulio, astronomy, NASA stamp collection(Editor's note: Ron DiIulio has had two last launches this year. Space Shuttle Endeavour completed its mission June 7 when this story was first published, and on July 8, Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to lift off. Learn more about the final mission.) 

NASA’s final Space Shuttle Endeavour launch will mean the end of an era for space enthusiast Ron DiIulio, above.

DiIulio, director of the astronomy program, has been chronicling the progress of the space program through the collection of autographed, commemorative envelopes and stamps for nearly half a century.

Now DiIulio will be seeking out the final pieces of his collection.

Since the 1960s, DiIulio has collected artifacts that document most of the space programs’ “firsts,” including NASA’s first landing tests, the first time Americans entered space, groundbreaking for Kennedy Space Center, the first flight of a female astronaut and more. DiIulio even has stamps commemorating America’s space program from Colombia, Geneva, Switzerland and the Ajmer region of India. 

“Pretty much everyone has a collection of something,” said DiIulio. “Having artifacts that can tell the story of the space program is invaluable. These kinds of items can really get people excited: it’s all about the power of imagination.”

“The final launch will be the end of an era,” said DiIulio. “We built this impressive fleet of ships, and now we are putting them on display and essentially ending America’s physical exploration of space. I’m glad that I’ll be able to share the history of the program with future generations through my collection.” 

During the early years of the space program, DiIulio operated the planetarium at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and had the opportunity to run space sky simulations on the dome for some of the first astronauts. Those contacts later helped DiIulio build his collection, by getting him signatures and postmarks. His collection includes approximately a dozen large binders of envelopes and stamps, and has been featured in museums across the country. - Alyssa Yancey, News Promotions

(Photo by Jonathan Reynolds)

Posted on: Wed 06 July 2011

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