Retired astronaut Cady Coleman lands on a stamp

  • Catherine “Cady” Coleman holds an enlarged version of her stamp, one of the four new Space Exploration stamps celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing and U.S. astronauts with Irish ancestry in Dublin, Ireland. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Four new Space Exploration stamps were unveiled in Dublin, Ireland last week, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing and U.S. astronauts with Irish ancestry. This one features Neil Armstrong. The stamps are only valid for postage within the island of Ireland. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Four new Space Exploration stamps were unveiled in Dublin, Ireland last week, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing and U.S. astronauts with Irish ancestry. This one features Eileen Collins. The stamps are only valid for postage within the island of Ireland. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Four new Space Exploration stamps were unveiled in Dublin, Ireland last week, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing and U.S. astronauts with Irish ancestry. This one features Catherine “Cady” Coleman. The stamps are only valid for postage within Ireland. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Four new Space Exploration stamps were unveiled in Dublin, Ireland last week, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing and U.S. astronauts with Irish ancestry. This one features Michael Collins. The stamps are only valid for postage within the island of Ireland. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/29/2019 11:18:02 PM

SHELBURNE FALLS — A retired NASA astronaut and Shelburne Falls resident is one of four astronauts featured on new “Space Exploration stamps” from Ireland.

Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, NASA astronaut and University of Massachusetts Amherst alumna Catherine “Cady” Coleman unveiled the stamps while in Dublin, Ireland last week. The stamps were released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing and U.S. astronauts of Irish ancestry. Some of the stamps will be postmarked with the date of the moon landing.

“Professionally, it’s the epitome of everything I try to do,” Coleman said of being featured on one of the stamps.

Coleman said she is always looking for “the extra steps” that can be taken to encourage people to think about including women and minorities in these historic moments. As collectible items, the stamps will stay in the public eye for a long time, she said.

“The fact that two women are featured is really significant,” Coleman said. “They’ll be seen for years by a bunch of girls who will think it’s normal to do these kinds of things.”

Coleman, who has Irish heritage on both sides of her family, was featured on the stamps along with other historic astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Eileen Collins. The one-euro stamps will make great collector’s items but are only valid for postage in Ireland.

During her time with NASA, Coleman flew two space shuttle missions, most recently in 2011. She has spent more than 4,330 hours in space aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia and the International Space Station (ISS).

Coleman earned her doctorate in polymer science and engineering from UMass Amherst and her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While she was earning her doctorate, Coleman joined the Air Force as a second lieutenant, retiring in 2009.

In addition to her time with the Air Force and NASA, Coleman is a practiced flutist. She recorded three songs for The Chieftains, a prominent traditional Irish band formed in Dublin in 1963, during her last mission aboard the ISS. This was the first time anyone had recorded an album in space, and the songs were featured on the band’s 50th anniversary album.

According to a release from An Post, the Irish Postal service, Eileen Collins was the daughter of two Irish immigrants. Collins became the first woman to pilot a space shuttle mission during the Discovery’s rendezvous with the space station Mir in 1995. By 1999, she was given command of the space shuttle Columbia, another first for a woman.

“I don’t see it as me on a stamp,” Collins said in the release. “Rather, it is the position: woman astronaut or woman space shuttle commander.”

Neil Armstrong, who had roots in County Fermanagh, Ireland, became one of the first people to walk on the Moon when the Apollo 11 landed on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969.

Michael Collins, the Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot, remained in lunar orbit during the successful moonwalk. With his ancestry hailing from Dunmanway, a town in County Cork Ireland, Collins is featured on a stamp as one of only 24 people to have flown to the moon.

“People will always explore new places. Being outside of our planet through space exploration is compelling for humans,” Coleman said. “By exploring space we are improving life on Earth, through developing new technologies, finding solutions for issues like water recycling and efficient growth of crops and food sources, and understanding the human body.”

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264.




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