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The Moon landing of Apollo 11 in 1969 is regarded as the most significant achievement in human history, but without the missions that came before it—in particular, Apollo 8—we might never have set foot on the soft powdery surface of the Moon.
NASA had initially intended the mission to be a test flight for the newly-developed Lunar and Command Service Modules. Additionally, although the Moon was the ultimate destination of the Apollo programs, Apollo 8 was only meant to orbit the Earth—not the Moon—in a medium orbit. However, in August of 1968, NASA top brass decreed that Apollo 8 would go to the Moon… or, at least, go around it.
This decision to jumpstart the mission resulted in a shuffling of crewmembers. Jim Lovell, a veteran of Gemini VII and XII, was initially slated to be the backup Command Module pilot. However, when Michael Collins, the prime CMP, had to undergo unexpected back surgery, Lovell was bumped up to the prime crew, joining Frank F. Borman and William A. Anders.
The astronauts’ ferry to the stars was to be the Saturn V, to date the largest rocket ever to reach operational status. Fifteen flight-ready examples of the rocket had been constructed and were ready for launch, with the first successful launch occurring in October 1967. The Saturn V rocket destined for the Apollo 8 was the third, and was dubbed SA-503.
The night before the launch, the astronauts were visited by Charles Lindbergh, who marveled at the scale of the rocket when compared to his Spirit of St. Louis. Lindbergh marveled at the fact that, during his famous 1927 transatlantic flight, he only used one tenth of the amount of fuel that Saturn V burned every second. The next day, December 21, Lindbergh watched as Saturn V took flight, bearing its precious cargo with it.
Upon reaching orbit and rotating the spacecraft, the crew of Apollo 8 became the first humans to see the whole Earth at once. And an hour into their flight, they became the first humans ever to orbit the Moon and see it close-up, rather than through a telescope. Lovell described it as “essentially grey, no color,” pockmarked with craters.
It was this flight that proved that going to the Moon was actually possible, paving the way for the manned space flights that would follow; upon their return, they were named Time magazine’s Men of the Year.
The machines that got them there, as well as the space suits they wore, have gone down in history. The Apollo 8 spacecraft is on display at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, and Bill Anders’s space suit can be seen at the Science Museum in London. Though we might dream of owning a space suit, we can’t; however, there are other pieces of the astronauts’ kit that are far more attainable.
Like this watch, the Omega Speedmaster Professional. Since 1965 it had been issued to astronauts in all manned space missions. Ed White wore one when he took his monumental space walk; Lovell, Borman, and Anders each wore one; and Buzz Aldrin was wearing his when he followed Neil Armstrong down the ladder to the “essentially gray” surface of the Moon itself.
This Speedmaster, a Reference 145.012-67, dates from 1968, the year of Apollo 8’s historic flight. The flat foot crown and applied logo are features that are highly desired by collectors. On a black leather strap, it’s a fine example of a “pre-Moon” Speedy, an icon among icons that deserves to go with its wearer anywhere—even to the Moon and back.
Stainless steel HF case is approximately 41mm (excluding crown). Reference 145.012-67. Calibre .321 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa 1968.
Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition overall with signs of moderate use and wear. D090 bezel is in very good condition with some signs of age and wear. Dial is in very good condition overall with rich patina to the luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands. Flat foot Omega crown.
Includes one 20mm black leather strap.
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