• Dylan Tang

OMEGA與Apollo13攸關成敗的關鍵 14 秒/The success or failure 14 secs between OMEGA and Apollo13

當阿波羅 13 號任務的太空船在 1970 年 4 月 11 日升空時,無論是在船上或地面上的人員都沒料到接下來將發生的意外與危機。


這個任務的指揮官是資深太空人洛威爾(James Lovell)帶領組員航向月球。 這原本將是人類史上的第三次登月以及阿波羅計畫的下一個成功篇章。洛威爾、指揮艙飛行員斯威格特(Jack Swigert)及登月艇飛行員海斯(Fred Haise)三位太空人都配備了,1965 年起所有NASA載人飛行任務的官方配備OMEGA專業計時碼錶。



NASA 工程師列根(James Ragan)在 1964 年率先測試、認證了OMEGA超霸腕錶,他表示:「腕錶是重要的備援品。當太空人無法聯絡上地面人員、或遇到數位計時器故障時,他們能仰賴的, 就是手上的錶了。倘若發生了問題,腕錶是不可或缺的。」

果真,發射僅僅兩天後,阿波羅 13 號就發生了重大的問題。船上的一個氧氣槽爆炸,導致服務艙故障,也使得艙內的太空人陷入險境,登月任務在此時被迫放棄。而現在,最重要的就是讓組員們安全返家。

在休士頓指揮中心主導的創新救援策略中,太空人必須移動到登月艇。然而,登月艇的設計無法讓這麼多人待在艇內那麼久的時間。因此,為了節省能源,組員們關掉了幾乎所有的電力設備——如此一來,數位計時器無法再運作了,太空人們也身處又黑又冷的環境。



在接下來的幾天,阿波羅 13 號持續面臨著許多嚴峻的挑戰,同時 NASA 也不眠不休地設法解決這個越來越危急的狀況。而就在這最後一道關卡,OMEGA無與倫比的精準性派上了用場。 當時,太空船已經偏移航道約 60 至 80 海里,這代表登月艇會以錯誤的角度觸及地球的大氣層後被彈回太空,事若至此,情況將變得無法挽救。


因此,太空人們必須手動調整登月艇的航道;要做到這件事情,引擎燃料必須整整燃燒 14 秒,而且完全不容許任何失誤。由於少了數位計時器,斯威格特便使用他的OMEGA超霸計時碼錶測量燃燒時間,同時,洛威爾以地球的地平線為依據,修正登月艇的航道。任務指揮官洛威爾在後來表示:「我們利用斯威格特手上戴的OMEGA腕錶為引擎的燃燒時間計時。 我則負責控制太空船,藉由斯威格特精確地計算燃燒時間,我們順地利修正航道,也讓我們安全返家。」


這獨一無二的操作完美成功,讓所有人鬆了一口氣。最終,阿波羅 13 號在升空 142 小時 又 54 分鐘後,登月艇於 4 月 17 日安全落入南太平洋。那只歐米茄錶也完成了自己的任 務,充分發揮了其作為登月錶的專業功能。



同樣在 1970 年,NASA 於 10 月 5 日頒發了「銀色史努比獎」(Silver Snoopy Award)給OMEGA,藉以表彰品牌對人類太空飛行任務的成功所作的貢獻。當這個重要獎項成立時, NASA 挑了史努比作為非官方吉祥物,因為史努比總能在困境中保持輕鬆自在的心情。它也是任務成功與「守門狗」的象徵。


時至今日,這個純銀領針徽章依然彰顯著歐米茄的太空探索歷史,尤其是品牌在阿波羅 13 號這個「成功的失敗任務(”successful failure”)」中所扮演的重大角色。



When the Apollo 13 spacecraft was launched on April 11, 1970, no one on board or on the ground expected the accidents and crises that would follow. The commander of this mission is a veteran astronaut James Lovell who leads the crew towards the moon. This would have been the third moon landing in human history and the next successful chapter of the Apollo project. The three astronauts include Lowell, the command module pilot Jack Swigert and the lunar pilot Pilot Hades have all equipped OMEGA. It's the standard equipment since 1965 when NASA manned missions to astronauts by then. NASA engineer James Ragan said: "The watch is an important backup. When the astronauts cannot reach the ground personnel, or encounter digital timers when they break down, they can rely on the watch on their hands. If something goes wrong, the watch is indispensable. "   Only two days after the launch, Apollo 13 had a major problem. An oxygen tank on the ship exploded, which caused the service cabin to malfunction and also put the astronauts in the cabin in danger. Now, the most important thing is to let the team members return home safely. In the innovative rescue strategy led by the Houston Command Center, the astronauts must move to the moon. However, the design of the moon landing boat cannot keep so many people in the boat for so long. Therefore, in order to save energy, the team members turned off almost all electrical equipment, hence, the digital timer can no longer operate, and the astronauts are also in a dark and cold environment. In the next few days, Apollo 13 continued to face many serious challenges, and NASA also worked tirelessly to resolve this increasingly critical situation. And at this last level, the unmatched precision of Omega watches comes in handy. At that time, the spacecraft had shifted about 60 to 80 nautical miles from the course, which meant that the lunar boat would be bounced back into space after touching the earth's atmosphere at the wrong angle. If this happens, the situation will become irreparable. Therefore, the astronauts must manually adjust the course of the lunar boat; to do this, the engine fuel must be burned for 14 seconds, and no mistakes are allowed. Due to the lack of a digital timer, Swigert used his OMEGA Speedmaster chronograph to measure the burning time. At the same time, Lowell corrected the moon landing course based on the earth's horizon. Mission Commander Lowell later said: "We use the Omega watch worn by Swigert to time the combustion time of the engine. I am in charge of controlling the spacecraft, and by Swigert accurately calculate the combustion time, We corrected the fairway smoothly and let us return home safely. " This one-of-a-kind operation was a perfect success, and everyone was relieved. Eventually, 142 hours and 54 minutes after Apollo 13 lifted off, the lunar landing boat safely landed in the South Pacific on April 17. The omega watch also completed its task, fully exerting its professional function as a moon landing watch. Also in 1970, NASA awarded the "Silver Snoopy Award" to OMEGA on October 5 to recognize the brand's contribution to the success of human space missions. When this important award was established, NASA chose Snoopy as an unofficial mascot, because Snoopy can always maintain a relaxed mood in a difficult situation. It is also a symbol of mission success and "watchdog". Today, this sterling silver pin badge still highlights Omega's history of space exploration, especially the brand's important role in the "successful failure" of Apollo 13.


Photography courtesy for NASA / OMEGA

#OMEGA #Apollo13 #Watch #Moon

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