Legendary Pioneers: OMEGA Welcomes the Space Cowboys to the Olympic Green in Beijing

2008-08-19 11:09:00

    BEIJING, Aug. 19 /EMWNews/ -- Two of NASA's most celebrated

astronauts, Captain Eugene Cernan and General Tom Stafford, were joined by

explorer Wong How Man and OMEGA president Stephen Urquhart at the OMEGA

Pavilion on the Olympic Green in Beijing on 18 August 2008. Also on hand

was Swiss astronaut Claude Nicolier.


    OMEGA president Urquhart welcomed the adventurers and reminded the

audience and members of the media that the OMEGA Speedmaster has been a

part of every NASA manned space mission and is still the only watch ever to

have been worn on the moon. Pointing out that pioneering spirit is a core

OMEGA value, he said the company is proud of its association with

explorers, both lunar and terrestrial.

    Captain Cernan left his mark on history with three missions in space.

He was the pilot of Gemini IX and the lunar module pilot of Apollo X. As

the commander of Apollo XVII, he holds the distinction of having been the

last man to leave his footprints on the lunar surface.

    Asked by moderator Lynn Ding if he would like to return to the moon,

Cernan answered wryly, "If you'll go with me." He suggested to the

audience, "If you ever have a chance to go to the moon, take your camera!"

    Cernan also talked about the time he was given an opportunity to drive

OMEGA's Moon Rover on the Great Wall and said he was delighted to be back

in a country which has so many happy associations for him.

    General Stafford was a member of the crew on four NASA missions. He

piloted Gemini VI during the first rendezvous in space and he teamed up

with Cernan when he commanded Gemini IX and Apollo X. General Stafford

logged his fourth space flight commanding the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, a

joint space flight culminating in the first meeting in space between

American astronauts and Soviet Cosmonauts.

    Stafford said that he feels privileged to be one of the only people in

the world ever to have gazed at Earth from the moon. Each of his four space

missions left him with a profound sense of pride and accomplishment.

    The astronauts shared the stage with Wong, who was described by TIME

Magazine as "China's most accomplished living explorer". In June of this

year, he found the source of the Yellow River (he had already identified

the source of the Yangtze River). He pointed out that he and the astronauts

share the kind of motivation which is driven by an innate curiosity about

the world around (and above) them.

    Swiss astronaut Nicolier described how OMEGA has always been associated

with adventure and exploration -- he is currently involved with the

OMEGA-supported Solar Impulse project with its aim of circumnavigating the

globe in an airplane powered only by the sun. "I'm here for three reasons,"

he said. "I love the city of Beijing. I am Swiss, something I share with

OMEGA. And I am an astronaut," pointing out that space travellers are still

part of a small, close fraternity.

    Cernan and Stafford said that they hope to see some of the Olympic

sporting events while they're in Beijing. When asked which sports were of

particular interest, Gene Cernan drew loud applause from the audience when

he said, "Ladies' beach volleyball!"

    The OMEGA Pavilion, located on the Olympic Green close to the National

("Bird's Nest) Stadium and the Aquatic Centre (the "Water Cube") is open to

the public daily from 10 a.m. throughout the Olympic Games.

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