Topic outline

  • Send a Postcard to Space

  • Make your own Space Artifact!

    Send Postcards to Space!

    Author:  Frances Dellutri, NSS Dir. of Education                                                Updated Aug, 2022

    Ages:  All ages

    Summary: The National Space Society partners with Blue Origin's Club for the Future to promote the Postcards to Space Initiative!

    The course will guide you in sending a postcard you create to space which will become TRUE SPACE ARTIFACT! 

    This is a perfect opportunity for all ages to get involved in the space program.  This course can be used  and adapted to any level classroom or informal learning letting. The course discusses the path of your postcard and some information about the flight of the capsule and, with some imagination, you can fly alongside your postcard! 



             - Provide access to a template for the postcards.

             -  Give instructions on how to get the postcards to space.

              - Engage students in the flight mechanics of the rocket and capsule carrying the postcards.


               - Will have an opportunity to create their own postcard which will become a space artifact.

              - Will have opportunity to express themselves (in a cross disciplinary way) in a space-related message.

              -  Will learn about how and where their postcards will go in their suborbital postcard flight.

    Learning Standards:

         This course has a cross-grade level application.  

         The NGSS Standards Core Ideas are:   Energy,  Forces and Interactions, and Energy  

          The Common Core Standards are: CCSA.ELA-Literacy


  • Postcard Instructions

    AttachPostcard to Space Templateed is a template for you to use to send your postcard to space and get a returned artifact from space!

    Here are the instructions:

       a. Print out the template on cardstock following postcard guidelines.

    To qualify for mailing at the First-Class Mail postcard price, it must be:


    -At least 3-1/2 inches high x 5 inches long x 0.007 inch thick

    -No more than 4-1/4 inches high x 6 inches long x 0.016 inches thick

    -You may need to enlarge the template, according to your printer requirements to meet the size requirements.

     b. Cut along the dashed lines for the proper postcard size. The template provides two postcards.

       c. The author follows the instructions on the template, adding their address and image/message on the back of the card.
       d. The author affixes a US national or international postcard stamp to send it home from Blue Origin (U.S.) to your address.

       e. Put the completed, stamped card into an envelope.

       f.  Address and send the envelop carrying your postcard to Blue Origin at:

            Club For the Future
            PO Box 5759
            Kent, Washington, 98064 USA.   

                    (Indicated on the template.)
     g. Blue Origin then bundles your postcard with others and prepares it for flight in the special postcard cargo carrier.
    The carrier for the postcards that are bundled for  the Blue Origin flight.


    h.  After the flight, Blue Origin then puts their stamped message on your postcard, indicating your postcard has been to space. 

    i.  Blue Origin Club For The Future then returns the  postcard to the author, via the US mail! 

  • The Rocket Under the Postcards

    YPhoto of Alan Shepardour postcard will be launched  into a suborbital flight by the Blue Origin rocket called New Shepard, named after  the US astronaut Alan Shepard, the second human in space, the first US human in space, and in 1971 he walked on the moon! Shepard's oldest daughter, Laura Shepard Churchly was a citizen astronaut in a Blue Origin capsule and her suborbital flight launched on December 21, 2021.

    Blue Origin's launch is Launch Site One in West Texas, about 25 miles  (40 kilometers) from Van Horn , TX, USA.

    The thrust of the New Shepard rocket is 110,000  pound/foot or 490kN and when the capsule releases from the booster, the velocity  2,229 mph (3,586 km/hour).

    The capsule named RSS  (Reusable Space Ship or RSS-2) First Step detaches from the booster after it uses up its propellant at about 47 miles  (~75 km) above the Earth and reaches an altitude of 347,538 feet (106 kilometers) and the flight is about 10 minutes long.

    New Shepard Booster and capsuleThe  capsule is in free fall back to  Earth  and is slowed down by one set of parachutes that are deployed to brake its fall and then another set of three parachutes to slow it down to about 15 miles per hour (24 km/hr).  Right before landing (not far from the launch site) a puff of air from the underside of the capsule cushions its final landing.   A scissor-like mechanism further supports the seats to soften the landing even more.

    Here's a video of the capsule returning to the ground-

  • The Edge of Space

    The postcards to send to space may travel the same trajectory as the citizen astronaut flights using the Blue Origin New Shephard rocket.  The rocket pummels the capsule up to approximately 102km (63) miles above the earth.   Is that to space?

    The Fédération Aéronautique Iternationale (World Air Sports Federation),  founded in 1905 in Lausanne, Switzerland is the world body governing air sports, but also manages definitions for human spaceflight. It maintains records for aeronautical activities such as  ballooningaeromodeling, and unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), as well as flights into space. The FAI   attempts to determine the line between Earth's atmosphere and outer space.

    The FAI bases the edge of space as the  reachable altitude limit of a conventional airplane.  This altitude is called the Karman Line. This point is called the Karman line is located 100 kilometers (54 nautical miles; 62 miles; 330,000 feet) above Earth's mean sea level

    Theodore von Karman, a Hungarian American engineer designated this altitude as the point as the maximum point at which there are aerothermal limits to flight, von Karman determined a theoretical point for these limits. 

    Boosted with the New Shephard rocket, your postcards will travel to just above the Karman Line, it will go to the Edge of Space!

  • Flying Along with Your Postcard!

    Imagine yourself flying with your postcard!  


    Take a look at a video of a Blue Origin flight with citizen astronauts in July 2021.                                            

    Your postcard will fly the same trajectory as the citizen astronauts, achieving a suborbital flight, and being boosted by a New Shephard rocket.

    Here are some statistics about who has flown in the RSS-2 Capsule above the New Shepherd Booster.

    The ages given are the ages of the citizen astronauts at the time of the flight.

    Oldest person and oldest man:  William Shatner, actor, 90 years of age

    Oldest woman:  Wally Funk, part of the 1962  ‘Women in Space Program, age 82

    Youngest person:  Oliver Daemen, teenager, age 18

    10 females and 26 males have flown with Blue Origin above the Karman Line as of August, 2022. 

  • Reusable Rockets

    Blue Origin and other companies are working hard to make space travel more affordable.    The cost of launch for NASA for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) was once about $24,000 (US) per pound, the Russian Soyuz cost about $8,000 per pound for LEO payload (cargo).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Today, rocket companies have reduced that cost quite a lot by engineering reusable rockets.  Some companies have reported a cost of $1,200 per pound of payload.  Blue Origin reuses its RSS capsule and the New Shephard rocket  The accomplishment of reducing the cost of space travel will  lower the economic barriers for the use of space  for a variety of applications such as launching satellites, and carrying cargo and crew to space stations, the Moon and Mars.

    The rockets are very expensive requiring a lot of money for the materials and  the facilities and labor force to build them.  Blue Origin currently has two operational New Shepard rocket boosters, one for research cargo flights and the other for passenger flights and has engineered them to be reusable.  New Shepard is fully reusable and as of August 19,2 022 it has made 15 uncrewed test launches. and 4 crewed launches.
    Here is a clip of the  59-foot  (18 meter) New Shephard Booster returning to Earth -