Saturday, July 30, 2016

Snoopy Attitude - Failure Is Not An Option!

Few people actually know the connection between Snoopy, NASA and the Omega Watch Company.

The manufacture Omega unveiled in Baselworld 2015 the new Snoopy Speedmaster Professional to mark the 45th Anniversary of Apollo 13. As you may recall, that mission was in jeopardy when the oxygen tank exploded and the mission to land on the Moon was aborted. But what was more important was how to get the astronauts back to Earth safely.

One of the critical operations was to reposition the module for reentry into Earth's atmosphere. As they needed to conserve power, the only timing equipment that was still working was the timepiece the astronauts were wearing. What they needed to do was to time that critical operation - 14 seconds. Any more or less and this would have led to an incorrect entry angle of the module and that would have meant the module might not return to Earth.

Anyway, as the we all know now, the crew of Apollo 13 made it safely back to Earth. Thanks much to the wristwatch they had a timing mechanism at hand! And because of that, Omega received the Silver Snoopy Award which is awarded to individuals or companies that contribute to the safety of NASA's space missions.

In the latest iteration, Omega renamed the the timepiece Speedmaster Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award. More about the Silver Snoopy Award later.

Instead of the regular black dial, Omega chose the white dial. And on it, two very important inscriptions - "Failure Is Not An Option" and "What Could You Do in 14 Seconds?". Notice the white hands on the 9 o'clock sub-dial?

Another special feature of this Snoopy timepiece is the Super Luminova effects on the dial and bezel. The markers are made of Super Luminova and have a black varnish centre. To the naked eyes, nothing special.

But going into low light conditions, you will discover the special feature. Not only does the markers glow green, even the bezel glows green too.

The Super (Luminova) Snoopy is painted on the sub-dial at the 9 o'clock position and like the markers has a great glow in the dark.

An intriguing piece of information on the inscription. In the Apollo 13 movie in 1995, Ed Harris played the role of the NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz and this was what he said in one of his famous conversation - "We've never lost an American in space, we're sure as hell not gonna lose one on my watch! Failure is not an option."

A more well known inscription - What Could You Do In 14 Seconds, is found between the one to fourteen seconds. This refers to the critical operations of firing one of the engines and turning it off exactly 14 seconds into the blast so that the module is positioned correctly for the reentry into Earth's atmosphere. Here you can see the inscription starting at one second mark extending to the fourteen seconds mark.

On the caseback is another solid case but with a special feature. The caseback features a silver Snoopy in a space suit carrying a portable air conditioning unit. This is the same image of Snoopy that is found on the Silver Snoopy Award pin. The award given to both individuals and companies that have contributed to space travel safety is a sterling silver lapel pin that has actually flown during a NASA mission.

On closer inspection, one can see the dark blue enamel background of the case and the sprinkling of silver powder giving the impression Snoopy is floating in space.

The other unusual feature is the use of a anti-resistant crystal sapphire instead of the usual Hesalite crystal. The strap is black nylon fabric with white stitching.

This is, however, not the first Snoopy Omega Speedmaster Pro. Back in 2003, there was the first version of the Snoopy Speedmaster Pro which I had blogged about earlier.

Two very different Snoopy Speedmaster Pro but both coming as a result of their place in the history of space exploration, the Moon landing and Apollo XIII.