Having your mail delivered by rocket is the most 1950s futurist thing ever

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/09/04/having-your-mail-delivered-by.html


Depending on the payload size, the data density (when expressed in terms of the number of 1tb micro SD cards) could easily surpass fiber. Terrible latency though.


1930s Germany seemed to have had a bit of a thing for rocket mail:


Decades and decades ago, there was a vaporware model rocket set that would put you in the (novelty) rocket mail business.

It was promised by a company called AVI (Aerospace Vehicles Incorporated) which was run by Myke Bergenske (died last year, RIP) who started another company, MRI in the late 60s, which was purchased by a big-name plastic model outfit (MPC) which got rocket kits into stores all over the country. When the division folded after a few years, Bergenske bought the assets and sold them as AVI; he also made new kits and motors.

The set would have included a model rocket, a pad of stationary, and a sheet of adhesive stamps. Kiddos would buy stamps, write letters, fold and stamp them, and the kit owner would fly them.

They wouldn’t go any further than the other end of the playing field the rocket was launched in, but if the rocket didn’t end up in a tree you’d get a letter back that had flown on a rocket! Rocket mail!


was, and still is, slow as hell.

Compared to email? Or compared to the joy of dissing the Post Office? I don’t use it a lot any more, but i think they still take about 3 days to anywhere. Has that changed?


I’m surprised I haven’t seen mail rockets in Fallout 4; they’d fit right in

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Nope. For regular letter mail, depending on drop-off and pick-up times (and things like weekends/holidays), 2-3 days is how long it takes mail to get most anywhere in the US (I’m in Eastern Washington, and I’ve gotten mail from both Kentucky and Oregon in that amount of time). Domestic parcel mail takes up to a week if you go for the cheapest tier, but even that’s an outside estimate for the most part.

I really don’t think many people appreciate the quality of our postal system. It may be one of the few things this country can actually be said to excel at. As postal services go, we have a pretty damn good one, and it drives me a bit bonkers when people rag on it as the Worst Thing Ever, or some hallmark of government bureaucracy and inefficiency run amok. Even commercial delivery services use the USPS for a lot of their last-mile delivery network because it would be cost-prohibitive to do it themselves (that mule delivery mentioned in the video is a daily drop-off/pick-up to a remote Native American reservation in a tributary of the Grand Canyon; imagine FedEx’s response to being asked to service that community directly).

For less than a can of Coke, you can send a letter from Nome, AK to Miami, FL and it’ll be there in under a week. They may not be using rockets, but the Post Office is still pretty freaking great.


I was taken aback by that comment also. I still like to use USPS to send personalized cards/pictures and it always gets there in a few days plus the grandkids have something to show the other kids.Best $.50 ever spent.


Don’t be dismissive of missives by missle.


I always thought that a pneumatic system was the wave of the future. Then again, I was a kid and those tubes fascinated the hell out of me. Turns out that NYC delivered mail that way from 1897 to 1953. Also, the USPS is doing just fine despite Republican attempts to kill it.

Regulus cruise missile =/= rocket. Rockets generally don’t have holes in the front - just in the back.

This was effectively uncrewed airmail, since that vehicle was turbojet powered.

Still pretty wild.

Seamus may be referring not to USPS, but Canada Post.

If you’re lucky, you might get the letter in the same month.

Entirely agree. I get the USPS’s stamp (philately) catalog in the mail (imagine that!) regularly, and a recent edition gave numbers about the Postal Service, stuff like the USPS has more retail locations than Walmart and a bunch of other retailers combined, it’s fleet of vehicles is bigger than some other organization that you would think has a lot of vehicles, stuff like that. The scale is pretty impressive. Over the years, I think that I’ve personally had just one piece of mail not get delivered. And chances are, it was my fault for probably losing it myself and not actually sending it.

I think that people still get a bit of a thrill when there’s personal mail in the mail box. I make my kids write thank you notes on card stock, hand print the envelope, then stick a fun stamp on it (like Wonder Woman, or sharks, or the cool, recent eclipse commemoration with the heat activated moon). People dig getting them.

When we were kids, my dad, who was seriously old school, made me and my sister collect stamps. I wonder how much influence that had on me around this whole topic. If nothing else, it made me aware.


Now that we are in the future, our mail travels at the speed of light.

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Yes, but it’s not pneumatic light.


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