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On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy issued a special message to Congress on the importance of putting a man on the Moon--even more importantly, an American.
“Now it is time to take longer strides…” Kennedy said, “… I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
Now the Space Race metamorphosed into a Moon Race, although the Soviets refused to reveal that they too had aspirations to land a cosmonaut on the lunar surface.
However, shortly after President Kennedy's speech, the Soviets secretively amped up their manned lunar programs--all due to the work of one man, Sergei Korolev, who would be responsible for much of the strides the Soviets undertook during this period.
Korolev had initially studied aircraft design, joining the Ukrainian Society of Aviation and and Aerial Navigation in 1923. But in the 1930s Korolev fell under the thrall of Friedrich Zander, an early proponent of spaceflight who designed the first liquid-fueled rocket to be launched in the Soviet Union. Ever after, Korolev would be propelled by the desire to build rockets that could fly higher and faster than any ever made before--a desire that survived Korolev's imprisonment in the notorious Lubyanka Gulag during Stalin's Great Purge, where Korolev lost all his teeth due to scurvy.
After his imprisonment, Korolev designed ballistic missiles during the Second World War. His creation, the R-7 (the world's first ballistic missile), would serve as the basis of the rockets that be used by the Soviets throughout the Moon Race. In fact, it was Korolev who saw the potential of the R-7 to reach space; it would in 1957, ferrying Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite.
In a speech after the launch of the second Sputnik, Korolev said: "The time will come when a spacecraft carrying human beings will leave the earth and set out on a voyage to distant planets--to remote worlds. Today this may seem only an enticing fantasy, but such a fact is not the case. The launching of the first two Soviet Sputniks has already thrown a sturdy bridge from the earth into space, and the way to the stars is open."
It was under Korolev that the Soviets launched the first dog, Laika, into space; the first man, Yuri Gagarin; and the first space walk, undertaken by cosmonaut Alexey Leonov in May of 1965. It's perhaps thanks to Korolev's competitive nature that Americans managed to land on the Moon at all. As soon as the Soviets achieved a goal, the Americans were not far behind, drawing the race neck-and-neck until the Americans would finally surpass them in 1969.
Perhaps the saddest fact of all is that none of Korolev's achievements would be published by the Soviets--at least not under Korolev's real name. Instead, he was referred to by his title: Chief Designer. Like his rockets, Korolev was the driving force of the Soviet space program, and after his death from cancer in 1966, the Soviets failed to realize the goal of landing a man on the Moon.
During the Space Race, the Omega Speedmaster became absolutely essential for astronauts, closely intertwined with both tragedy and triumph. Mercury astronaut Wally Schirra wore one, and after Ed White wore a Speedmaster during his EVA (the first ever undertaken by an American astronaut), it was flight-qualified by NASA for all succeeding space missions. White would be wearing his when he died in Apollo I.
Perhaps most importantly of all, Buzz Aldrin would take his (a Reference 145.012) to the Sea of Tranquility, fulfilling the goal that President Kennedy had set forth seven years before.
This Reference 105.012, with a sharp case (complete with "dot over 90" bezel) and a dial with rich patina, is a piece of horological--and American--history.
Stainless steel HF case is approximately 41mm (excluding crown and pushers). Omega Speedmaster Professional Ref. 105.012-65. Omega Calibre .321 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with sharp bevels on the lugs. Case does have minimal signs of use and wear throughout, in keeping with age, including some dings and scratches on the sides of the case and the lugs. D090 bezel is in very good condition with some signs of wear, particularly between the 70 and 60 minute markers. Dial is in very good condition with fine overall patina, particularly to the luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands. Omega crown is a service replacement. Case back with "pre-Moon" hippocampus logo has some faint scratches but is in otherwise very good condition.
Includes one 20mm dark brown leather strap and two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle
A 1039 bracelet is available upon request.