SkylabSkylab was America’s first experimental space station. Some of Skylab’s programobjectives were: To prove that humans could live and work in space for extendedperiods, and to expand our knowledge of solar astronomy well beyond Earth-basedobservations. Skylab made much use of Saturn and Apollo equipment. Through theuse of a “dry” third stage of the Saturn V rocket, the station was completelymade as a workshop area before launch. Crews visited Skylab and returned toearth in the Apollo spacecraft.
THE FLIGHTSSkylab’s 1st unmanned missionMay 14, 1973The station was launched into orbit by a Saturn V booster.
Almost immediately,problems developed due to vibrations during lift-off. A critical meteoroidshield ripped off taking one of the craft’s two solar panels with it; a piece ofthe shield wrapped around the other panel keeping it from deploying.
Skylab was maneuvered so its Apollo Telescope Mount (ATM) solar panels faced theSun to provide as much electricity as possible. Because of the loss of themeteoroid shield, however, this positioning caused workshop temperatures to riseto 126 degrees F.
The launch of Skylab 2 was postponed 10 days while NASAengineers developed procedures and trained the crew to make the workshophabitable. At the same time, engineers “rolled” Skylab to lower the temperatureof the workshop.
Skylab’s 2nd manned mission – May 25th to June 22ndAstronauts;Charles Conrad, Jr.
Paul J. WeitzJoseph P. KerwinThe crew meats with Skylab on the fifth orbit. After making many repairs,including deployment of parasol sunshade which cooled the inside temperatures to75 degrees F, by June 4 the workshop was in full operation. In orbit the crewconducted solar Earth resources experiments, medical studies, and five studentexperiments; 404 orbits and 392 experiment hours were completed; three EVAsthat totaled six hours, 20 minuets.
Skylab’s 3rd manned mission – July 28th to September 25th, 1973Astronauts;Alan L. BeanJack R. LousmaOwen K. GarriottContinued maintenance of the space station and extensive scientific and medicalexperiments. Completed 858 Earth orbits and 1,081 hours of solar and Earthexperiments; three EVAs totaled 13 hours, 43 minuets.
Skylab’s 4th mission – November 16th, 1973 to February 8th 1974Astronauts;Gerald P. CarrWilliam R. PogueEdward G. GibsonLast of the Skylab missions; included observation of the Comet Kohoutek amongnumerous experiments. Competed 1,214 Earth orbits and four EVAs totaling 22hours, 13 minuets. Three -man crews occupied the Skylab workshop for a total of171 days, 13 hours. It was the site of nearly 300 scientific and technicalexperiments. The empty Skylab spacecraft returned to Earth on July 11,1979 scattering debris over the Indian Ocean and the sparselysettled region of Western Australia. The chances of being hit by Skylab’s debriswere 1 in 600 billion. Social Issues
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