Rocket Cards!

Space/rocket collectible cards from the '50s

Added 1999-03-13, Updated 2003-03-23

This the first of three pages showing my set of rocket cards. The other two pages are:

This page contains cards 1 through 10 of the set.

Please also read the Background comments below.


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The biggest initial problem in launching an artificial earth satellite is to send a rocket into space at a speed which will overcome the tremendous pull of gravity -- 16,000 to 18,000 m.p.h. The Soviets' great feat in launching their first satellite in October was made possible by producing a powerful safe carrier rocket given this speed by a mighty ballistics missile. A multiple-stage rocket was probably used to get greater momentum, with each secondary stage dropping off to earth until the satellite, encased in the nose cone, was released.


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The first artificial satellite was shot up vertically in a rocket, probably from an Arctic base of the USSR. The rocket gradually curved away from the vertical, releasing the 180 pound satellite at a height of about 600 miles above the earth. It thus entered its orbit travelling parallel to the earth. This historic achievement needed a great amount of calculations using rapid-action computing machines to determine the exact angle or trajectory for the firing of the satellite-carrying rocket, the exact speed and the best orbit.


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The launching of a second Soviet satellite on November 3, 1957 was a great scientific achievement not only because of the weight (twice that of the first Sputnik), and the higher orbit (about 1,000 miles maximum), but especially because of the earth traveller aboard. A special breed of dog, Laika, similar to the Spitz or Pomeranian, was aloft. It was strapped with various instruments measuring its pulse, breathing, blood pressure, in a hermetically-sealed compartment. Special chemical bodies produced oxygen for it. Laika has opened the era of man's interplanetary travel.


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Modern science has devised powerful telescopes to observe the stars and the planets, the moon, Northern Lights, and so on. But observatories on the earth are handicapped by the dense atmosphere lying above our planet which obstructs the view of the sun's rays and cosmic rays, to give two examples. This is overcome by sending up a fully-instrumented satellite above the earth's atmosphere. Here we can get a clearer picture of the great world of the skies, and learn more of nature's secrets so that we can master them.


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The friction of the heavy air blanket hanging over the earth, plus the great speed of rockets, threatens to burn them up in mid-air on their return to earth. In August 1956, the nose cone of a U.S. Jupiter "C" missile was recovered intact from the Atlantic -- a big step forward for science. It had been shot up 600 miles and travelled 1200 miles in all before plunging into the sea. It is believed the nose cone was made of porous ceramic and metal alloys which can resist great heat.


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The moon -- 238,840 miles away from the earth -- is the prized goal of space travellers throughout the world. In special laboratories and experimental stations, scientists are working on models for space ships to our mysterious neighbor. One such model has been designed by Wernher von Braun, U.S. rocket expert. It is made up of a cluster of cylindrical fuel tanks need for the long journey, a cabin for the crew and a parabolic radar antenna at the tip for guidance in the vast space through which the ship will travel.


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The stars travel at fabulous speeds in all directions. If one should ever enter our solar system it might cause grave damage to the earth and even end all life. Our card shows what would happen if a white dwarf star, whose gravitational force is far greater than our own, came close to the earth. All movable objects -- buildings, cars, trucks, people, ships, would be sucked up into the air and drawn towards the star. In a few minutes the earth, and perhaps the whole solar system, would be destroyed.


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Spacemen will need special armor to withstand great speeds in space travel, and the absence of oxygen in outer space, as well as for protection against cosmic, ultra-violet and x-rays. This is provided for in space suits being designed today. The suits will have special pneumatic pants and sleeves which inflate with air and keep the spaceman from blacking out by applying pressure and checking the pull of gravity on the blood stream. Rubberized materials and nylons are being experimented with for light but sturdy space suits.


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A spaceman operating in areas with no gravitational pull will use pocket manual pistols. These will work on the same principles as a rocket, moving him about in the direction he wants to go (See card No. 6), attaining space-machine speeds of from 18,000 to 25,000 m.p.h. Centrifugal force will equal gravity and man will be in a weightless state. Special precautions will have to be taken to see that his blood does not boil, and that he does not suffer nausea in this abnormal state.


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Scientists talk of having the heavy spaceships assembled on platforms or stations high above the earth, where the pull of gravity will not be as great. Parts will be brought there from the earth by rockets. The space platforms will serve as assembly places and landing points for spaceships going to distant planets; and as great laboratories permanently studying the cosmos. Vegetables for their staffs will be grown by utilizing sun energy. They will be like simple earth satellites, circling the earth at a fixed orbit.

On to Rocket Cards! (11-25)
On to Rocket Cards! (26-50)


When I was 8 years old, I was in love with space travel. While other kids collected baseball cards, I saved my allowance for these rocket cards (which came in a pack of five along with some bubble gum, I think).

I clearly remember when Sputnik I (card 1) was launched in October, 1957 followed in November by Sputnik II, which carried Laika, a dog! (card 3).

In those days (I sound like your granddad, don't I?) there was a cold war going on, and the threat of atomic bombs falling out of the sky was particularly frightening for us Canadians, located as we are directly between the US and USSR as the crow -- or missile -- flies.

For a few months, the Soviets were masters of space, and therefore the planet. The Americans tried desperately to catch up, but the Vanguard rocket they were using kept blowing up!

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These cards must have been printed towards the end of 1957 or very early in 1958, because there surely would have been one for the first American satellite, Explorer I, launched successfully on January 31, 1958.

Many thanks to my son Dieter Limeback for scanning my rocket cards into jpegs and for encouraging me to post them on my site. If you need freelance graphics work done, Dieter's your man.

Update: March 2003

In January I received the following email:

The cards you posted were produced by Parkhurst. The US card set did not include the first 25 space cards that were part of the Canadian set.

Thanks, Geoff. The first 25 space cards are by far the more interesting, aren't they? Good luck finding the cards you're missing.

Thank you also for writing, because it reminded me to get going and move my rocket cards here from my old Interlog "tilde" account. It took me only two months to get around to it.

My efforts, using Google and AllTheWeb, to find these cards anywhere else on the Web were unsuccessful. However, Parkhurst seems to have made a number of modified Canadian card sets; see Zorro - Gum Cards for another.

When I first posted these pages in 1999, I managed to type in the text from the backs of only the first ten cards before tiring of the task. Moving the pages here to this site meant a complete overhaul of the table layout HTML, in favour of xhtml strict with css. This conversion was a piece of cake using the search&replace feature of my text editor.

Thus with my strength and intensity then still more or less intact, I managed to force myself to type in the text of the next fifteen cards, the remaining space cards that were part of the Canadian set, before tiring again. Typing is hard.

The American set, cards 26 through 50, all say "By Permission of Colorgraphic Ltd." on the backs. The text is obviously by another writer, consisting largely of technical specs and manufacturer information. I don't know if I'll ever type those cards in.

On to Rocket Cards! (11-25)
On to Rocket Cards! (26-50)

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