Saturday, January 12, 2019

Frank Borman NASA Astronaut A Look Back @ Apollo 8

Update: Alan from Hong Kong just wrote in and shared this expert from a 1969 publication named, "Microtecnic, Volume 23:

"Everyday wrist watch for the men who reached for the moon Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders took their wristwatches with them to the moon, it is reported. Not by forgetfulness prior to entering their capsule. The fact is one of the few pieces of equipment not made specifically for the various flights of the NASA space programme are the astronauts's production-line Omega Speedmasters that are worn on each wrist outside the space-suit."

So this basically means that Frank Borman and James Lovell wore their own personal watches to the moon, as did so many other NASA Astronauts. Which naturally begs the question of wether or not any of the Apollo 8 Astronauts wore their Rolex watches to the moon?

...Rolex Coolness...

Frank Borman

NASA Astronaut

A Look Back @ Apollo 8

To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before

So what's cooler than Rolex? NASA Astronauts wearing Rolex—of course!!! Over the years, I have researched like crazy and discovered many photos of U.S. NASA Astronauts wearing Rolex watches, and today I am excited to present another previously undocumented NASA Astronaut wearing his Rolex, and this time it's Frank Borman, who is pictured below wearing his Rolex Datejust on a Jubilee bracelet.

Frank Borman began his career as a U.S. Air-Force fighter pilot from 1951-1953. From 1957 until 1960 he served as an assistant professor of thermodynamics and fluid mechanics at West Point. From 1960 to 1962 he served as a test pilot for the United State Air Force. Boarman had an amazing career as an Astronaut, and went on to become the CEO of Eastern Airlines.

The photo above and below show the Apollo 8 mission Astronauts before the departed for the moon. Notice in the photo below that James Lovell, who is pictured on the far right is wearing his Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master. It is interesting to note that at least two of the Apollo 8 Astronauts personally wear Rolex watches. Apollo 8 crew members Bill Anders and Frank Borman are pictured below on the left wearing their MA-1 flight jackets, which became the standard issue for the U.S. Air Force and Navy Pilots, and ground crew. These flight jackets were designed to be worn in temperatures of 15 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and featured a knitted wool collar with matching cuffs. 

James Lovell who was a fighter pilot and test pilot in the U.S. Navy is conversely wearing the precursor to the MA-1 Flight Jacket, which is known as a B-15 Flight Jacket. Lovell's old-school B-15 leather 'Bomber" Jacket features a Mouton fur collar. The old-school B-15 leather Bomber jacket's were replaced by the MA-1 since the design interfered with the proper use of a parachute harness.


Man's First Journey To The Moon

The Apollo 8 NASA mission was profound as it was mankind's first manned attempt to actually fly to the moon, and return safely to earth. Pictured below is the an illustration of the Apollo 8 Lunar Orbital Plan Profile.

The NASA photo below shows the primary and backup crew for Apollo 8, and was taken at the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A, in front of the Saturn V Rocket on the launchpad. 

The photo above shows the Apollo 8 prime crew standing in the back row, and we see (from left to right): Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders. The Apollo 8 backup crew is pictured in the front row, which consisted of (from left to right) Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Fred Haise.

This is Ground Control to Major Tom

You've really made the grade

And the blogs want to know whose watch you wear

In the photo above we see James Lovell on the far left wearing his Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master standing with Apollo 8 crew mission members, Bill Anders and Frank Borman in front of their Apollo 8 Rocket. Frank Boarman is pictured wearing a classic Omega Speedmaster Chronograph, which is very cool.

I was checking out a post on the, which was titled, "Hidden gems from the NASA photo archive", and I came across a post from TLIGuy, who posted the photo below, that said "And here is the same watch some 40+ years later." 

The photo below shows a recent photo of James Lovell's Pepsi Rolex GMT-MASTER close-up, and notice it has an unusual U.S. NAVY Academy Crest logo next to the 9 O'Clock rectangular marker:

The most interesting point from TLIGuy's post was he said: 

"One of my favorite email exchanges about watches was with Ed Mitchell. I asked him a question about the Speedmaster and he said: 'I don't know about that, but I think most of us were wearing Rolex watches.'"

Dr. Edgar Mitchell is pictured above and below as he prepares the settings on two of his Rolex GMT-Master models, as he prepares to fly to the moon aboard Apollo 14. Dr. Edgar Mitchell said he wore his Rolex GMT-Master watches on his wrists during his moonwalk, which was the longest moonwalk in history. 

Dr. Edgar Mitchell is pictured below on the far right, with his fellow Apollo 14 members, Alan Sheppard pictured in the center, and Stuart Roosa, pictured on the left.

Dr. Edgar Mitchell is standing on the left, with Apollo 14 crewmate, Alan Sheppard standing between him and Stuart Roosa. The Apollo 14 prime crew astronauts are standing in front of the Saturn V Rocket (AS-509) Vehicle on Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Notice Alan Shepard is wearing a Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master. 

Alan Sheppard is pictured below, wearing his Rolex GMT-Master. Alan Shepard was one of the Original 7 Mercury Astronauts, who went on to become an Apollo Astronaut.

Let's get back to the Apollo 8 team. In the photo below, it appears Frank Boarman is wearing a Rolex GMT-Master. I can't make a 100% positive ID, but it has all the tell-tale signs of being a GMT-Master, including what appears to be a uniquely tapered Rolex Oyster Bracelet. Borman may also be wearing a Rolex Submariner, as I have seen other photos of him from the time where he looked like he was wearing a Rolex Submariner.

The photo below shows the Apollo 8 team after they are suited-up and on their way to the Saturn rocket to leave for the moon.

The Apollo 8 capsule is pictured below, which is on a Saturn 5 rocket, which was the height of a 35 story office building. It carried a million gallons of rocket fuel and was the largest rocket ever devised.

Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to actually travel to and see the moon up close with their own eyes. They were also the first to see the dark side of the moon with their own eyes.

Apollo 8 crew members were the first to witness an Earthrise. Of course they didn't land and walk on the moon, but William Anders who was the Lunar Module Pilot took the "Earth Marble" [NASA Photo Reference: AS8-14-2383] photo below which was titled, "Earthrise". The famous photo was taken with on December 24, 1968 with a highly modified 70MM Hassleblad 500EL, electric drive camera that used customized Kodak Ektachrome film.

The dialog from the Apollo 8 astronauts at the time this photo was taken was as follows:

Anders: Oh my God! Look at that picture over there! There's the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty!

Borman: Hey, don't take that, it's not scheduled. (joking)

Anders: (laughs) You got a color film, Jim?
            Hand me that roll of color quick, would you...

Lovell: Oh man, that's great!

If you want to learn more about Rolex History @ NASA, I recommend checking out my Rolex X-Files named, "The Right Stuff, Godspeed, John Glenn."

Below is a video of Frank Borman that shows him flying and showing off a restored 1943 Northrop Flying Wing, and if you look closely toward the end of the video you see him wearing his Rolex Datejust.

Below is a fascinating list of NASA Astronauts & Test Pilots I have discovered and documented wearing Rolex watches over the past decade:
  • Chuck Yeager of Edwards Air Force Base was first to break sound barrier in 1947 while wearing a Rolex Perpetual Oyster.
  • William Knight of Edwards Air Force Base Fastest manned flight of Mach 6.7 (4,250 Miles Per Hour ins X-15 which is nearly 7 times the speed of sound) in 1967.
  • John Glenn of Mercury 7.
  • Scott Carpenter of Mercury 7.
  • Walter Schirra of Mercury 8, Gemini 6A & Apollo 7.
  • Frank Borman of Gemini 7 and Apollo 8.
  • Michael Collins of Gemini 10 & Apollo 11.
  • Jack Swigert of Apollo 13 (Wore to Moon).
  • James Lovell was a U.S. Navy Test Pilot and went onto NASA to participate in Gemini 7, Gemini 12, Apollo 8 & Apollo 13 (Pictured Above).
  • Stuart Roosa of Apollo 14 (Wore to Moon).
  • Dr. Edgar Mitchell of Apollo 14 (Wore to Moon).
  • Alan Sheppard of Mercury 3 & Apollo 14 (Worn On Cape Canaveral & Possibly To The Moon).
  • Ronald Evans of Apollo 17 (Wore to Moon).
  • Eugene Cernan of Gemini 9A, Apollo 10 & Apollo 17 (Worn Outside Space Suit and Possible To The Moon).
  • Dr. Leroy Chaio (Wore on 3 Space Shuttle Missions and while Commander of the International Space Station Expedition 10).

Rolex Zietgiest

Life Imitating Art

Just for the heck of it, let's get in the Rolex Time Machine and go back to 1968, and have a look around. One of the first things we would notice is the analog to the NASA Apollo Missions, which would be the original Star Trek TV show.

Space: The Final Frontier

These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

In December of 1968, while Captain Kirk was boldly exploring strange new worlds, the crew of Apollo 8 really was 'boldly going where no man had gone before."

Every time I watch the opening credits from the original Star Trek TV Series, is totally Deja Vu's me out!!!


Assignment Earth

Episode #55, 1968

Episode #55 begins with the Starship Enterprise traveling through the time-space continuum back to 1968 to conduct a mission as part of an earth history research program. All of a sudden, a man who is trying to beam to earth gets beamed onto the Enterprise transport station by mistake. He introduces himself to Captian Kirk as 'Gary Seven' (played by actor Robert Lansing, who looked a lot like Steve McQueen).

Gary Seven's human ancestors were abducted from Earth around 4000BC and taken to an invisible cloaked planet named System Zeta Gamma 357. Gary comes back to Earth in 1968 on a mission to try and save Earth from nuclear destruction. 

Gary Seven travels with his companion pussy cat named Isis and as you can see in the photo below when Captain Kirk first encounters Gary Seven in the transport room, Gary Seven is wearing a Rolex GMT Master Pepsi, which is the same model that NASA Apollo 8 Astronaut, Jim Lovell was wearing back in 1968.

Star Trek producer, Gene Roddenberry considered creating a spin-off show that was based upon the Gary 7 character, who is pictured below wearing his Rolex GMT-Master with a young Teri Garr. In an ironic twist of fate, Star Trek would canceled after the 1969 season, as was NASA's Apollo program several years later in 1972. I believe the consensus in retrospect was that both Star Trek and Apollo should have both gone on longer.

Reality Is Stranger Than Science Fiction

So here is where thins get bizzaro interesting. In 1972, as NASA was ending the Apollo missions, it began preparing for it's next chapter, which was that of the Space Shuttles. Pictured below is the very first Space Shuttle which was conceived in 1972, and of course it was named 'Enterprise'.

In the photo below from 1976 we see most of the original Star Trek TV series actors, with Gene Roddenberry at NASA checking out the NASA 'Enterprise Space Shuttle.'

Speaking of Star Trek, William Shatner who played Captain Kirk is pictured above and below wearing his Rolex Submariner.

Since we are on the subject, and since I have been daisy-chaining all over the place, I thought I would point out that Chris Pine, who is the current Captain Kirk, and is pictured above on the right side, as well as below, also personally wears a Rolex Submariner.