Ragan’s interrogation of the watches included a series of “Environmental Test Conditions”, including subjecting the timepieces to high temperatures, extreme pressure, high humidity, total oxygen atmosphere, shock, acceleration, decompression into a vacuum, vibration and acoustic noise, as well as low temperatures (very often in conjunction with another variable, such as high pressure). The cold tests involved taking the watches down to -18°C/-4°F for four hours, then warming them back up and testing and re-inspecting (not unlike the more rigorous tests commissioned by OMEGA Lifetime above). A parameter of -18°C/0°F might not seem that low compared to OMEGA Lifetime’s tests. After all, the temperature on the Moon’s surface can plummet to -200°C/-328°F; at the equator of Mars it can plunge down to -90°C/-130°F (-125°C/-193°F at the poles) and even the shaded side of an orbiting space vehicle can be -100°C/-148°F. For comparison the lowest temperature recorded in Antarctica is -89.2°C/-128.56°F; in January the inhabitants of Verkhoyansk in Siberia have to live with a bone-chilling average of -45°C/-49°F; in the same month, the Everest summit averages -36°C/-33°F, but can drop to -60°C/-76°F. (Remember, though, that a watch is unlikely to experience these excessively low temperatures in the real world – body heat and clothing modify the environmental conditions, so even if the mercury is way down, the watch is probably considerably warmer.) In fact, the Speedmaster had already shown it was capable of withstanding -18°C/0°F. In 1956, one of the watches was strapped on the outside of a Canadian Pacific Air line’s Douglas DC-6B that was flying the Polar Route to Amsterdam from Edmonton. After nine hours of exposure to the elements at up to 5,300m/17,500ft, including temperatures lower than -18°C/0°F, it was checked at Schiphol Airport by the captain and ground crew and found to be working perfectly. We’ll probably know the answer to the question about the choice of low temperature parameters decided for the NASA tests next year, when OMEGA and the Smithsonian release the results of their research into those pioneering watch trials in the early sixties. What we know for sure is that only the OMEGA Speedmaster passed all the Ragan tests with flying colours and it was designated “flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions” on 1 March 1965.