Monday, July 25, 2016

What's With Snoopy and the Omega Speedmaster Pro

Did you know that the Apollo 10 Lunar Module was named Snoopy and the Command Module named Charlie Brown?

The most famous beagle, Snoopy is the icon of quality and safety in NASA's space program and that comes in the form of a sterling silver pin with an engraving of Snoopy in a spacesuit helmet. The Silver Snoopy is presented by an astronaut to individuals and companies who works in the space program that has gone above and beyond in pursuit of quality and safety. The pin depicts Snoopy in a space suit with a space helmet on.

The Snoopy comic strip has a strong following and at the time of the launching of the Apollo 10 mission, the crew had named the Lunar Module Snoopy and the Command Module Charlie Brown. So there you are for the link between Snoopy, NASA and Omega Watch Company.

What is important to note is how the Speedmaster Pro helped in the failed Apollo 13 mission. During the mission the oxygen tank exploded and crippled the module. Because of the explosion, the crew needed to turn off all non-essential equipment in order to conserve energy in the Command Module to prepare their re-orbit into earth's atmosphere. The only timing device they have was the Omega Speedmaster Pro.

The crew had two critical operations that relied solely on the chronograph function of the Speedmaster Pro. Firstly to time ignition of the rockets to shorten the estimated length of the return to Earth and secondly to time ignition of the rockets to decrease speed and raise the flight path angle for re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. For the mid-course correction, the rocket had to fire for 14 seconds... any more or any less and the re-entry into earth's orbit would have failed and the entry vehicle would have missed the trajectory into earth - meaning to say Apollo 13 would never have returned to earth. We now know that the operation worked and Apollo 13 landed safely back to earth.

A happy looking Snoopy on the 9 o'clock sub dial with the motto "Eyes on the Stars".

And if you didn't already know, there is an Omega logo underneath the Hesalite crystal.

This is a solid case back timepiece with the painted Snoopy and the motto again. Underneath the cover is the Calibre 1861 manual winding (Lemania base) column wheel chronograph. Provides 45 hours of power reserve. It is said another reason why a manual winding timepiece was chosen is that in space, the vacuum and the absence of gravity affects the automatic winding mechanism.

This version of the Speedmaster Pro was launched in 2003 and comes as a Limited Edition of 5441 pieces. Why such an odd number 5441? Well, it reflects the elapsed time of the Apollo 13 mission: 142 hours, 54 minutes and 41 seconds.

Lovely Snoopy Speedmaster Pro and thanks to my good friend Joe for allowing me to shoot this piece.