Activity Average hrs per crew

Briefings 450

System training 257

When the Skylab crew pool came together under Conrad in the Skylab CB Branch Office in 1970, there was very little actual hardware to train upon. While the pilot group focused on developing the training programme (using the first crew as pathfinders) and concentrated on systems and procedures, the scientists in the group focused on the experiments, specialising in research fields that were closely associated with their own areas of expertise.

Kerwin estimated they (the Skylab group) were perhaps more trained for a flight than any previous crew, due to the complexity of the science programme and the length of preparation. Kerwin hadjoined AAP/Skylab almost as soon as he arrived at NASA and had worked on the development of medical experiments and the protocol behind them. He left the work on ATM development to Garriott and Gibson, but because there was only one scientist-astronaut on each crew he would have to look after the ATM on his mission, so he spent a lot of time training to operate it. In becoming the lead crew member on ATM and the medical experiments, he had little time to devote to the Earth Resource Experiment Package (EREP), apart from the S-190 five-inch camera he was responsible for, so Pete Conrad and Paul Weitz handled the EREP payload on Skylab 2. In addition to ATM operations, Kerwin also had to learn the malfunction procedures in case of failure. Further, he was the crew's navigator and handled the telescope, sextant and computer, and was back-up to Conrad and Weitz on other mission objectives and procedures.16 This was a pattern that was followed for all three missions.

In December 1971, a Skylab training review revealed that the crews would group under the following headings:

• CSM operations: systems, mission, stowage walkthroughs.

• Saturn workshop operations: systems and missions, stowage and walkthrough,






167 98 695 424 16 2107

EVA/IVA, maintenance and housekeeping, photo and TV, In-flight Medical

Support System (IMSS).

• Experiments: Apollo Telescope Mount (ATM), Earth Resources Experiment

Package (EREP), medical, others.

• Miscellaneous: egress and fire; rescue; SMEAT.

Full-time use of the Houston Command Module Simulator for Skylab crew training began after Apollo 16 (April 1972), when the Apollo 17 crew transferred their training to the Cape. Following Apollo 17 (December 1972), the CMS at the Cape was also committed to Skylab crew training, with the prime crews using the Houston simulator before transferring to the one at the Cape as their mission approached. Orbital workshop systems and mission training ran from February 1972, as did ATM experiment operations training. EREP simulator integrated training began in June 1972.17

Reviewing the Skylab training programme

The commander and pilot on each crew conducted most of the training with regard to ascent to orbit, rendezvous, docking, and entry operations. Stowage training involved the whole crew and amounted to two exercises of two hours each for the CSM, the MDA and ATM and four exercises of four hours for the OWS. This included a walkthrough to familiarise the crew with loose equipment stowage arrangements and to perform crew equipment transfers which were not included in activation or deactivation procedures. It also gave them the opportunity to review the in-flight stowage provisions and decal identification configurations, as well as tracking the status of consumable crew equipment. There were also approximately twenty hours of briefings for each crew on Skylab photographic hardware and systems. For biomedical training, the science pilot would serve as an observer for commander and pilot operations, and the commander would observe when the science pilot participated in an experiment.

None of the science pilots were trained in any of the manoeuvring experiments prior to flight. They also did not participate in all of the Skylab Airlock Experiment training. For EREP training, the whole crew trained on the equipment, but the commander and pilot received the majority of the training. The whole crew also participated in ATM training, with the commander or pilot taking responsibility for the other technological experiments. Nine of the experiments aboard the station required very little training by the crew, and ten others required no crew training at all.

For the EVA programme, preparation and post-EVA procedures and operations required ten 1-G walkthroughs for the SL-2 crew, fifteen for the SL-3 crew and fourteen for the SL-4 crew. In addition, each man completed two altitude chamber runs for EMU familiarisation. Part-task training was required prior to the use of the Neutral Buoyancy Simulator (NBS) at Marshall Space Flight Center. During a week at MSFC, groups of two or three EVA simulations were completed, with approximately forty per cent unsuited and sixty per cent suited, in addition to fifteen to twenty NBS runs for each crew. The crews also participated in three of four flights in a KC-135 aircraft, for umbilical management and clothesline deployment training purposes.

For in-flight maintenance, there were over 100 individual training tasks, including ATM (four tasks), Communications (eleven tasks), EPS (ten tasks) and Environmental Control System/Housekeeping (over 100 tasks by themselves). Egress training covered pre-flight, post-flight nominal and emergency egress from the Command Module, the ATM and the MDA during vacuum conditions. Closed-hatch spacecraft tests, launch pad and special facilities evaluations and end-of-mission recovery operations added a further thirty to thirty-five hours over eight or nine exercises, while fire training (detection, prevention and suppression) contributed up to twelve hours to the workload in three to five further exercises.

There were also eighty-two hours of In-flight Medical Support Systems training involving illness and injury, dental, microbiological (for microbial prevention and identification) and laboratory training (blood sampling/count techniques, urine analysis procedures). Physician-astronauts Kerwin, Musgrave and Thornton participated in the analysis of this phase of the training.

Musgrave summarised his Skylab training as a back-up crewmember as:

• Crew reviews of the hardware while still in the manufacturing process.

• Crew participation as operators during spacecraft tests, both at the manufacturer and at the Kennedy Space Center.

• Bench reviews of equipment prior to final stowage into the vehicle.

• Participation in all systems tests in which the interfaces between spacecraft components, equipment, and experiments were checked out.

• Crew participation in electromechanical closeout, where the spacecraft is put into the launch configuration and left that way until it launches.

For the assigned crews, physical examinations and biomedical studies (in addition to the baseline data gathered periodically for sixteen medical experiments) were performed at set intervals: launch minus twelve months; minus six months; minus thirty days; minus twenty-one days; minus fourteen days; minus seven days; minus three days; minus one day; and finally on the day of launch. In October 1973 Musgrave wrote, "There is little doubt that Skylab crews are the most extensively studied biological creatures on the planet." Their total exposure to formal Skylab mission training averaged about 2,800 hours for each mission.

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