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STEM stamps
Four of the postage stamps planned for 2018 focus on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. (USPS Illustration)

If you’re the U.S. Postal Service, how do you follow up on Pluto, planets, “Star Trek” and a total solar eclipse? Here’s how: Next year’s batch of postage stamps will include a memorial to Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, as well as a four-stamp set paying tribute to science, technology, engineering and math (a.k.a. STEM).

The science-minded selections were included this week in a sneak preview for the Postal Service’s 2018 lineup.

Sally Ride
A commemorative Forever stamp pays tribute to the late astronaut Sally Ride. (USPS Illustration)

In a statement from Sally Ride Science, the late astronaut’s life partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, said “it was a great pleasure” to work with the Postal Service to create the Forever commemorative stamp.

“As a young girl, Sally collected stamps,” O’Shaughnessy said. “She would be so honored to now appear on a stamp.”

Ride rode into space on the shuttle Challenger in 1983 and 1984, and served on the presidential commission that investigated the Challenger shuttle disaster in 1986. She played a similar role in the investigation of the 2003 Columbia tragedy.

Before joining the astronaut corps, she was trained as a physicist, and so she returned to academia after leaving NASA in 1987. She was one of the founders of Sally Ride Science, a program focused on STEM education, and played a key role in NASA’s EarthKAM and MoonKAM educational imaging projects.

Ride passed away in 2012 at the age of 61 after a 17-month battle against pancreatic cancer.

Bioluminescence stamps
A 20-stamp pane will feature 10 life forms that create their own light. (USPS Illustration)

The STEM Forever stamps would have pleased Ride almost as much as her own stamp. Each stamp features a collage of faces, symbols, drawings and numbers keyed to the themes of science, technology, engineering and math. The “Technology” stamp features a drawing of the Apollo spacecraft, while the “Engineering” stamp highlights a stylized computer chip.

Yet another science-y series of stamps will show off 10 kinds of bioluminescent creatures, ranging from a firefly to a deep-sea octopus.

There’s lots more to look forward to, including stamps commemorating Mister Rogers, John Lennon, Lena Horne, the Year of the Dog … and magic tricks. Check out the Postal Service’s website for the full rundown.

All these stamps will be rolled out over the course of the coming year, so be prepared to grab them online at your local post office or online, before they disappear.

Hat tip to CollectSpace’s Robert Pearlman.

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