From Academic Kids

Skylab is also the name of a research station at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica.
Mission Insignia
Missing image
Skylab Insignia

Mission Statistics
Mission Name:Skylab
Call Sign:Skylab
Launch:May 14, 1973
17:30:00 UTC
Cape Canaveral
Complex 39A
Reentry:July 11, 1979
16:37:00 UTC
near Perth, Australia
Occupied:171 days
In Orbit:2,249 days
Number of
Apogee:274.6 mi (442 km)
Perigee:269.7 mi (434 km)
Period:93.4 min
Inclination50 deg
~890,000,000 mi
(~1,400,000,000 km)
Orbital Mass:77,088 kg

America's first space station, the 75 metric ton Skylab, was in Earth orbit from 1973-1979, and visited by crews three times in 1973 and 1974.

It was launched May 14, 1973 by a two-stage version of the Saturn V booster (the SL-1 mission). Severe damage was sustained during launch, including the loss of the station's micrometeoroid shield/sun shade and one of its main solar panels. Debris from the lost micrometeroid shield further complicated matters by pinning the remaining solar panel to the side of the station, preventing its deployment and thus leaving the station with a huge power deficit. The station underwent extensive repair during a spacewalk by the first crew, which launched on May 25, 1973 (the SL-2 mission) atop a Saturn IB. Two additional missions followed on July 28, 1973 (SL-3) and November 16, 1973 (SL-4) with stay times of 28, 59, and 84 days, respectively. The last Skylab crew returned to Earth on February 8, 1974.

Missing image
View of Skylab space station cluster in Earth orbit from the leaving Skylab 4

Skylab was actually the refitted S-IVB second stage of a Saturn IB booster (from the AS-212 vehicle), a leftover from the Apollo program originally intended for one of the canceled Apollo earth orbital missions. A product of the Apollo Applications Program (a program tasked with finding long-term uses for Apollo program hardware), Skylab was originally planned as a minimally-altered S-IVB to be launched on a Saturn IB. The small size of the IB would have required Skylab to double as a rocket stage during launch, only being retrofitted as a space station once on-orbit. With the cancellation of Apollo missions 18-20 a Saturn V was made available and thus the "Wet Workshop" concept, as it was called, was put aside and Skylab was launched dry and fully outfitted. Skylab's grid flooring system was a highly visible legacy of the wet workshop concept.

The mission computer used aboard Skylab was the IBM System/4Pi TC-1, a relative of the AP-101 Space Shuttle computers.

Missing image
Launch of the last Saturn V rocket carrying the Skylab space station

All told, Skylab orbited Earth 2,476 times during the 171 days and 13 hours of its occupation during the three manned Skylab missions. Astronauts performed ten spacewalks totalling 42 hours 16 minutes. Skylab logged about 2,000 hours of scientific and medical experiments, including eight solar experiments. The coronal holes in the Sun were discovered. Many of the experiments conducted investigated the astronauts' adaptation to extended periods of microgravity. Each Skylab mission set a record for the duration of time astronauts spent in space.

Following the last mission, Skylab was left in a parking orbit expected to last at least 8 years. Increased solar activity, heating the outer layers of the earth's atmosphere and thereby increasing drag on Skylab, led to an early reentry on July 11, 1979. Skylab disintegrated over Western Australia and the Indian Ocean, casting large pieces of debris in thinly populated areas (fortunately, the only casualty being an Australian cow). The reentry prevented any further use by the then unfinished Space Shuttle as was envisioned by some at NASA.

Skylab reentered at 16:37 UTC on July 16, 1979. Earth reentry footprint: a narrow band (approx. 4 wide) beginning at about 48S, 87E and ending at about 12S, 144E, over the Indian Ocean and Western Australia (debris found between Esperance and Rawlinna, 31-34S, 122-126E).

Two flight-quality Skylabs were built. The second, a backup, is on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Missing image
Drawing of Skylab with components labelled

Skylab Expeditions

Expedition Crew Launch date Landing date Duration (days)
Skylab 2 Pete Conrad - Commander,
Paul Weitz - Pilot,
Joseph Kerwin - Science Pilot
May 25, 1973
13:00:00 UTC
June 22, 1973
13:49:48 UTC
Skylab 3 Alan Bean - Commander,
Jack Lousma - Pilot,
Owen Garriott - Science Pilot
July 28, 1973
11:10:50 UTC
September 25, 1973
22:19:51 UTC
Skylab 4 Gerald Carr - Commander,
William Pogue - Pilot,
Edward Gibson - Science Pilot
November 16, 1973
14:01:23 UTC
February 8, 1974
15:16:53 UTC

See also

External links



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