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In-Depth How Snoopy Ended Up On The Speedmaster, And The 50th Anniversary Of The Apollo 13 Incident

In-Depth How Snoopy Ended Up On The Speedmaster, And The 50th Anniversary Of The Apollo 13 Incident

In 2003, Omega released a restricted version Speedmaster which had a rather idiosyncratic addition to the dial and caseback. On the dial, in the running seconds sub-dial at 9:00, was an improbable little figure: a cartoon canine in a cartoon spacesuit, doing a bright dance against a stellar backdrop, with the words “Eyes On The Stars” above his cap. The same image appears on the caseback. The canine being referred to is as instantly recognizable as the watch: It’s as a matter of fact Snoopy, the adventurous, imaginative, and powerful beagle from Charles Schulz’s famous “Peanuts” comic strip. 

Snoopy wound up on the Speedmaster thanks to quite possibly the most notable narrow escapes in the history of manned space flight, which occurred fifty years ago today. The beagle initially became associated with the space program thanks to Apollo 10, which was a dress rehearsal for Apollo 11. The Apollo 10 Command Module was called “Charlie Brown” and the Lunar Excursion Module, “Snoopy” (these were the actual official callsigns for the vehicles). “Snoopy” was picked as the name for the LEM because its work was to “nose about” for great landing locales for Apollo 11. In 1969, the “Peanuts” comic strip and its characters were a bona fide cultural wonder. The initially animated special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, appeared in 1965, and Snoopy, who had an ongoing imaginary aerial quarrel with the Red Baron (Manfred Von Richtofen) in his persona as The World War I Flying Ace, was perhaps the breakout star of the whole “Peanuts” gang.

Apollo 10 Commander Tom Stafford, with Snoopy, who’s being held by Jayme Flowers, secretary to astronaut Gordon Cooper.

NASA, in search of a way to acknowledge technicians, providers, and care staff whose work was of especially, indeed, stellar value, came up with the idea for the Silver Snoopy Award in 1968. The Silver Snoopy Award is unusual in that it is actually awarded by astronauts, “‘In Appreciation’ For professionalism, dedication, and outstanding help that greatly enhanced space flight safety and mission achievement.” The man liable for coming up with the award was Al Chop, then the Director of Public Affairs for the Manned Spacecraft Center, and the Award should help advance better and more certain interactions among thousands of individuals whose work was necessary to make each mission a success.

Mission Commander Jim Lovell, launch day, Apollo 13.

This brings us to Apollo 13, which is in some cases called NASA’s best ineffective mission, and all things considered. The mission occurred during a period when interest in the lunar missions had started to wane somewhat, however something extremely attention-getting happened at 55:54:53 (55 hours, 54 minutes, and 53 seconds Mission Elapsed Time). The actual incident is recorded as having happened at exactly 03:06 UTC on 14 April 1970 (10:06 PM, April 13 EST). One of the two oxygen tanks in the Service Module detonated during a routine maintenance system – a “cryo-mix” of the tanks’ interior, intended to hold the contents back from settling – seriously damaging the spacecraft and making completion of the mission impossible. 

Jim Lovell inside the Lunar Module. Image, NASA.

The astronauts and ground crew were forced to come up with various creative answers for get the astronauts home safely, including using the Lunar Excursion Module as a lifeboat. The LEM and Command Module remained associated with each other as both spacecraft circled around the Moon and headed back to Earth, and in what is probably the single most-talked-about utilization of a wristwatch chronograph in history, the astronauts utilized their Speedmasters to time a critical, 14-second mid-course firing of the LEM’s rocket engine to address their homeward trajectory. (This was an anxious second for the crew and ground uphold staff for various reasons, not the least of which was that the LEM rocket engine had not been intended for such things and had rather been intended to help plummet to the lunar surface. In the occasion, the consume went off without a hitch.)

Recovery of the Apollo 13 crew; behind, the Iwo Jima. 

The consume was planned precisely to such an extent that Apollo 13’s command module and her crew effectively splashed down just a mile from the intended recovery point and only three-and-a-half nautical miles from the recovery transport Iwo Jima. To acknowledge the commitment Omega’s Speedmaster made to the fruitful completion of the mission, the crew introduced a Silver Snoopy Award to Omega in 1970.

The Silver Snoopy Award introduced to Omega by Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise, the Apollo 13 crew.

The Silver Snoopy Award, incidentally, gets its name from a little silver pin that was given to the award beneficiary, which is in the shape of the spacesuit-clad dancing beagle. The pins had actually been to space – first, on the Apollo missions, and later they went aloft during Space Shuttle missions as well.

Silver Snoopy pin; image, NASA

Surprisingly, it was not until some time later – 2003, to be exact – that Omega released the main Silver Snoopy Speedmaster. This was a beautiful straightforward Speedmaster, yet with the Silver Snoopy symbol on the dial and also on the caseback. The watch was made in a creation run of 5,441 yet regardless of the large number, they currently sell for above and beyond the original rundown cost. One has to be rather careful in buying one, as there are a number out there which were conceived as normal Speedmasters, however which had the dials and casebacks swapped out later (Robert-Jan Broer has an astounding breakdown of the 2003 Snoopy , as well as rules and regulations in case you’re looking for one).

Speedmaster Professional Snoopy ref. 3578.51 from 2003.

The other Snoopy Speedmaster was the more ongoing Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award. This watch was launched at Baselworld 2015 (typing that made me pause for a second and think about how unforeseeable the following five years would be for the advancement of the show). 

This was a restricted version of 1,970 pieces (1970 being the year that Omega was given the award by the Apollo 13 crew), and it features a silver image of Snoopy on the caseback, as well as on the dial. Not at all like the jaunty spaceman Snoopy on the 2003 watch, the 2015 Snoopy is lying in an inclined position (one imagines, on the top of his doghouse, where his ability to remain balanced while asleep resisted the laws of material science) and an idea air pocket to the upper right of his head contains the words verbally expressed by Ed Harris as NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz, in the movie Apollo 13: “Failure isn’t a choice.” Snoopy himself is noticeable around evening time thanks to Super-LumiNova, and the words “What could you do in 14 seconds?” follow the seconds track from 0 to 14 to commemorate the 14-second course adjustment engine consume the Speedmaster coordinated and which was essential for a safe re-visitation of Earth.

Interestingly, both Snoopy Speedmasters have become increasingly costly on the used market. Back in 2013, before the advent of the Silver Snoopy Award Speedy, Robert-Jan Broer already had reason to lament the rarity of the 2003 Snoopy Speedmaster on the secondary market, as well as its rising expense. The Silver Snoopy Award Speedmaster has moreover become hard to find, at least at anything you should seriously mull over a reasonable cost based on its cost at launch – rather an amazing outcome for a rather specialty rendition of the Speedmaster. Last September at Sotheby’s, for example, one of them hammered for $23,500, over a high estimate of $7,000 .

Given a decision between the two, I would find it extremely, troublesome – I assume for me the 2003 form will always be the Snoopy Speedmaster, and I love the exuberance of the image of Snoopy, which really appears to capture the idealism and can-do attitude of the Apollo era. The fact that the Silver Snoopy Speedmaster’s Snoopy gleams in the dark, notwithstanding, is hard to oppose – and it radiates an untainted charm which I think has a lot to do with why such countless enthusiasts (including Revolution magazine’s originator, Wei Koh, as found in Talking Watches ) find it so irresistible.

See the Omega Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award Speedmaster at Omegawatches.com . As James Stacey makes reference to in today’s Daily Uplift, you can track with the Apollo 13 mission’s advancement in real time, thanks to Apolloinrealtime.org . Tune in this evening, and you ought to have the option to hear the space-to-ground back and forth as the incident happens. You can read all about the Silver Snoopy Award at nasa.gov.

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