On April 11, 1970, at 2:13 pm, Apollo 13 astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert are launched for a planned three-day trip to Fra Mauro. After almost 56 hours, Jack Swigert reports “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”, echoed by Lovell. From this moment on, the crew on board of the showed their nerves of steel, encountering and solving a number of issues, with the help of NASA’s crew +330.000kms away.

The story is well known to those who grew up during the space race era. Thanks to the blockbuster Apollo 13 from 1995 (with Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell) later generations are also aware of this mission. If you haven’t seen this movie, now is the time to look it up on your streaming service. Failing that, you can also listen to the podcast series “13 Minutes To The Moon” via the BBC World Services.

Silver Snoopy Award

If you’re deeply into Speedmasters, you probably already know the story. But for newcomers, here’s a swift recap. One of the challenges during the Apollo 13 mission was to time the engine burns for a correct re-entry back to Earth. Unfortunately, the astronauts had to switch off the electronic equipment to save energy. Dutifully, the Speedmaster Professional chronograph stepped in. The legendary watch was used to precisely time the 14 seconds needed. In an article we published in 2016, we explain the exact role of the Speedmaster. That’s why there’s a Snoopy on the dial of the Speedmaster Apollo 13 models from 2003 and 2015. It is now 50 years since the Apollo 13 mission took place. I thought it would be good to highlight this article on Fratello.

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