FIND OUT HOW THE CREW OF THE POLARIS DAWN MISSION PREPARES FOR ITS JOURNEY TO SPACE
IWC’s successful partnership with Inspiration4 last year raised $405,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®, one of the leading institutions that treats the toughest childhood cancers and pediatric diseases. Therefore, it was only natural that IWC would partner with the second mission founded by entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, the ‘‘Polaris Dawn Mission’’.
To celebrate this partnership, IWC created four exclusive chronographs in white ceramic, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Polaris Dawn” Ref. IW389111- all bearing an engraving of the name of one of the four astronauts that will accompany the crew member on this extraordinary journey. After returning to Earth, the watches will be auctioned to further raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. But before taking to the skies, each astronaut must go through an intensive training. Follow me on this journey as I experience a day in the life of an astronaut to be.
The Polaris Dawn Crew (l-r): Scott “Kidd” Poteet, Sarah Gillis, Anna Menon, and Jared Isaacman
Jet trainer L39 Albatross about to head to the runway
Airborne MIG 29
IWC RETURNS TO SPACE
Polaris Dawn is the first of up to three human spaceflights as a part of the Polaris Program. No earlier than March 2023, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will launch from historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew for this mission is composed of retired United States Air Force Lieutenant, Colonel Scott “Kidd” Poteet, and SpaceX Lead Space Operations Engineers, Sarah Gillis and Anna Menon. They will be commanded by Jared Isaacman, a U.S. entrepreneur and last year’s Inspiration4 mission commander.
With their different talents and backgrounds, the crew will not only be flying to 1,400 kilometers - the highest-ever earth orbit ever flown to – but will also attempt the first-ever spacewalk with the new extravehicular activity (EVA) spacesuits, designed by SpaceX. Moreover, the crew will conduct various types of research aimed at gaining a better understanding of human health during future long-duration space flights.
FIGHTER JET TRAINING DAY
Since the program’s announcement, Anna, Sarah, Scott, and Jared have undergone training consisting of centrifuge and hypoxia training exercises, high altitude, and intensive Dragon spacecraft simulations. Part of the training in Bozeman, Montana, is acclimating to the G forces that they will experience during the launch to space. And the best vehicle for this is a plane, more specifically, the fighter jet MIG-29 and the jet trainer L39 Albatross.
As part of the IWC partnership, I had the opportunity to join the crew on this momentous occasion and presented the crew with four unique IWC Pilot’s Chronograph Edition “Polaris Dawn” (Ref. IW389111) watches. Being on the ground in Bozeman gave me a glimpse into the training and what it meant for the crew and their families to be part of such a special mission.
Throughout the day, I attended flight briefings about the different conditions they would encounter, which were less than desirable due to a rainstorm. As the skies cleared at the end of the day, I was offered a seat and experienced flying on board one of the L39 Albatrosses planes with Pilot John Baum, who had the call sign ‘Slick.’ Having loved aviation since I was a little girl and first set foot on a plane, this was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. Having attended multiple airshows as a child, the magic of flying and planes have always made my heart race and given me goosebumps. A quick glimpse of Slick’s wrist and I spotted the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Lake Tahoe” (Ref. IW389105). My watch that day was the IWC Pilot’s Watch “Chronograph Spitfire” (Ref. IW387901).
Polaris Dawn crew member Sarah Gillis giving an interview on training day
Jared Isaacman, entrepreneur and Inspiration4 mission commander, during the flight briefing
Crew members Sarah Gillis and Anna Menon
“After a little while, we parted ways with our flying mates, and it was time to hit some G’s, like the Polaris crew members would experience flying to space.”
Pilot John Baum aka. ‘Slick’ wearing the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Lake Tahoe” (Ref. IW389105)
‘Slick’ getting a big hug for good luck from his son, Jack
Pilot Baum getting onboard his L39
Loyal companion: the Pilot’s Chronograph “Lake Tahoe” IW389105
Ever wondered what a cockpit of an L39 Albatross looks like?
The Flight Experience
After watching a safety video, I was given a flight suit and radio helmet to communicate with the pilot. Truth be told, after wearing that flight suit, I am pretty sure I will never look as cool as I did on that day. Strapped in on board the L39, I was ready to go. After one last radio check and wave goodbye to my colleague in the other L39 Albatross next to me, we headed to the runway and took off.
Being on board L39 is obviously nothing like a commercial airline. However, for some reason, the experience was smoother than a Boeing or Airbus commercial airliner. Flying above Montana reminded me of Switzerland’s mountains and green scenery. Soon enough, our colleagues joined us in the air in the other L39, flown by ‘Wizard.’ As we flew side by side, our pilots couldn’t help but show off their flying tricks.
Hitting some G’s
After a while, we parted ways with our flight companions, and it was time to hit some G’s, like the Polaris Dawn crew will experience on their journey to space. ‘Slick’ even let me take the controls for a bit to try to perform an aileron roll, an aerobatic maneuver in which an aircraft does a full 360° revolution about its longitudinal axis. I was a little afraid, but it was all worth it. Far from being an astronaut to be, every time I look at my IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire, I will remember that day when, for a mere 30 minutes, I was on board a jet trainer, and that it was probably the coolest thing I have done and will ever do.
4 “POLARIS DAWN” WATCHES FOR A GOOD CAUSE
SpaceX astronauts Anna Menon, Sarah Gillis, Kidd Poteet, and Jared Isaacman proudly sported the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Polaris Dawn” over the weekend, showing them to their families and friends and sharing each watch’s story. While in Bozeman presenting the watches to the crew for the first time, I could sense their excitement of being able to bring these watches on their journey to space as they create their own memories making space travel history.
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph “Polaris Dawn” Ref. IW389111 features a 44.5mm case made of IWC’s iconic white ceramic. The starry blue dial is reminiscent of what the astronauts will see from space and whilst on the spacewalk. On the back of the case, each watch features an engraving of one of the four crew members’ names. At 6 o’clock on the dial, the Polaris Dawn mission patch is prominently displayed as a reminder of the cause and the mission.
When the crew returns to Earth after spending approximately five days in orbit, the four IWC Pilot’s Watches Chronograph “Polaris Dawn” will be auctioned, the benefits of which will go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and contribute to their lifesaving mission to cure childhood cancer. The four IWC Pilot’s Watches previously auctioned in the framework of last year’s Inspiration4 mission had raised $405,000, with the overall auction results and donations reaching more than $240 million.
Ready to return to space: The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph “Polaris Dawn” Ref. IW389111 in crisp white ceramic with a space-blue dial
Each titanium case back bears an engraving with the name of one of the four crew members
Please click here to be notified of the auction of the Pilot’s Watches Chronograph “Polaris Dawn” IW389111.
All photography by Bradley Wentzel
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