This elegantly masculine watch from Omega pays homage to the historic Apollo-Soyuz space mission, where the cosmonauts and astronauts linked up and shook hands, all wearing the Omega Speemaster. This special-edition timepiece commemorates that event. The dial is made of an actual meteorite. More on the actual 1975 event below.
THE APOLLO-SOYUZ TEST PROJECT
July 15th, 1975 marked the beginning of an important chapter in space exploration. On that day, the USA launched an Apollo rocket, referred to as the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) Command Module and the Soviet Union sent Soyuz 19 into space.
Two days later, a remarkable thing happened: the two spacecraft representing these former adversaries in the space race docked and the three astronauts and two cosmonauts met in the middle where they shook hands, exchanged gifts and spoke with each other as they orbited the earth.
The ships remained docked for 44 hours after which they separated, and maneuvered to use the Apollo to create an artificial solar eclipse, which allowed the crew of the Soyuz to take photographs of the solar corona. Another brief docking was made before the ships concluded their own journeys separately. The Soviets remained in space for five days altogether, the Americans for nine.
It was the first time that spacecraft built by different nations had docked and signaled an era of cooperation in space, which would lead to the efforts to build a permanently occupied space station. The mission also marked the end of an era; it was the final flight of the Apollo spacecraft.
While the Apollo-Soyuz mission is best remembered for its political significance, it also resulted in some major technological achievements as neither of the spacecraft, which were completely different from each other, had been built for the purpose of docking.
The American crew was commanded by Thomas Stafford and included Vance Brand and the last of the original seven Mercury astronauts to make it into orbit, Donald K. “Deke” Slayton, who had long been grounded due to a heart problem. The two-man Soviet crew included Valeri Kubasov and the first space walker, Alexei Leonov.
Both the Soyuz and Apollo crews were equipped with OMEGA Speedmaster Professional wristwatches.
The ASTP Command Module splashed down on July 24th, 1975 after 217 hours, 30 minutes in space.
The Apollo era had landed. It would be six years before another American astronaut would fly in space aboard the reusable Space Shuttle. All of the Shuttle astronauts were equipped, of course, with OMEGA Speedmasters.