The launch of Skylab 2, carrying the first crew of Pete Conrad, Joe Kerwin, and Paul Weitz, should have taken place the following day but was postponed while the engineers came up with a repair plan. Finally the trio rocketed skyward atop a Saturn IB 10 days late. After an unsuccessful attempt at untangling the remaining solar panel from onboard the Apollo CSM, they docked successfully and boarded the overheated station, pushing a hurriedly designed reflective parasol through a hatch and opening it up to provide some protection from the Sun. A complex spacewalk then finally released the snagged panel, providing the station with much-needed power and finally bringing it fully on-line.
With the station up and running, the astronauts were able to stay aboard for a total of 28 days, a new record for the longest stay in space. They
Charles "Pete" Conrad (1930-99) was the third man to walk on the Moon, as commander of Apollo 12. Born in Pennsylvania, he studied aeronautics at Princeton before joining the US Navy and becoming a test pilot. He was selected for astronaut training in 1962 and first flew aboard Gemini 5 in 1965. A year later, he commanded Gemini 11. His first Apollo assignment was backup commander for the mission that became Apollo 9 - had it not been for the rearrangement of Apollos 8 and 9, he might well have been in line for the first manned landing on the Moon. After Skylab 2, Conrad quit both NASA and the Navy for a new career in business. He died following a motorcycle accident a month after his 69th birthday.
The arrival of space stations increased the duration of missions from days to weeks and forced mission planners to reconsider the menus they were providing to spacefarers. Although much of the food carried aboard Skylab was still freeze-dried, the pastes and cubes supplied on early space missions were supplemented with frozen food that could be cooked in the station's galley area. Meals were prepared on metal trays that also acted as hotplates to warm the food. A magnetized upper
i i surface held down the metal bowls and cutlery.
continued to make repairs throughout the flight but also had time to carry out many experiments. These included observations and photography of the Earth and Sun, as well as medical experiments in which the astronauts themselves were guinea pigs, and five experiments suggested by high-school students back on Earth.
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Do we really want the one thing that gives us its resources unconditionally to suffer even more than it is suffering now? Nature, is a part of our being from the earliest human days. We respect Nature and it gives us its bounty, but in the recent past greedy money hungry corporations have made us all so destructive, so wasteful.