Science in orbit

Skylab 3, crewed by Al Bean, Jack Lousma, and Owen Garriott, returned to a station that had been empty for just over a month, in late July 1973. Aside from installing an improved sunshield and troubleshooting a problem with their own spacecraft's manoeuvring engines, the astronauts of this mission were able to concentrate on science. As well as studying their own condition during 59 days of weightlessness, they also recorded how a variety of smaller passengers coped, including mice, fruit flies, and spiders, as well as conducting a range of student experiments.

The last and longest of the Skylab missions saw Gerald Carr, Bill Pogue, and Edward Gibson spend 84 days in orbit. Although Skylab 4 involved a huge variety of experiments and observations - including studies of the giant Comet Kohoutek using the station's solar telescope - the crew spent much of the time in conflict with Ground Control, complaining that they were being worked too hard, while some mission controllers felt they weren't doing enough. Despite a highly successful mission, none of them was selected to fly into space again.

jetpack testing

The large volume of Skylab allowed astronauts to test a rocket pack called the Automatically Stabilized Maneuvering Unit (ASMU). This was a prototype of the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), later used on Space Shuttle missions (see p. 194).

jetpack testing

The large volume of Skylab allowed astronauts to test a rocket pack called the Automatically Stabilized Maneuvering Unit (ASMU). This was a prototype of the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), later used on Space Shuttle missions (see p. 194).

work and play aboaro skylab

(Left) Gerald Carr of Skylab 4 jokingly shows his strength by lifting up colleague Bill Pogue with one finger. (Above top) Personal hygiene was more important on longer missions - here Jack Lousmo of Skylab 3 has a weightless shower. (Above centre) Al Bean operates an ultraviolet astronomical camera aboard Skylab 3. (Above bottom) Often the astronauts themselves were scientific guinea pigs - here, Skylab 2's Pete Conrad submits to the first dental examination in orbit, at the hands of colleague Joe Kerwin.

aperture doors

Apollo Telescope Mount oxygen tank nitrogen tank

L-bond antenna multiple docking adapter

Located at one end of Skylab, the Multiple Docking Adaptor (MDA) incorporated two docking points for Apollo CSMs: one on the main axis of the station for normal docking operations,- and the other to one side for emergency use. Here, Pete Conrad is rehearsing procedures in the Skylab mock-up in the Mission Simulation and Training Facility at Houston.

TECHNOLOGY

america's first space station solar array mounting

ATM support strut docking port

Apollo Command and Service Module reaction-control thruster assembly multispectral scanner

Multiple Docking Adapter

Airlock Module propulsion engine nozzle

CREW

LENGTH (INCLUDING CSM)

36.1m (118ft 6in)

MAXIMUM DIAMETER

6.6m (21ft 7in)

TOTAL MASS

34,473kg (76,0001b)

TOTAL MASS

34,473kg (76,0001b)

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