"On This Day" In Engineering History Blog

"On This Day" In Engineering History

Tune in to find out about significant engineering events that took place "on this day".

Previous in Blog: May 10, 1960 – Circumnavigating the Earth Underwater   Next in Blog: May 15, 1942 – Mandatory Gasoline Rationing
Close
Close
Close
3 comments

May 14, 1973 – Skylab is Launched

Posted May 14, 2007 1:56 PM by Steve Melito

On this day in engineering history, the first U.S. station was launched into orbit from the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Equipped with crew quarters and a laboratory, Skylab proved that humans could live and work in space for extended periods of time. The space station also represented the first National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) program dedicated wholly to scientific research. From 1973 to 1979, three crews of astronauts performed more than 100 experiments aboard Skylab, remaining in weightless conditions for 28, 59, and 84 days, respectively. During the 171 days and 13 hours that Skylab sheltered astronauts, crews logged more than 2,000 hours of scientific and medical experiments. Although workdays often lasted 16 hours, astronaut Joe Kerwin remembers that "looking out the window at night was a big treat".

Skylab was designed by engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Center, the Huntsville, Alabama facility where Wernher von Braun created the Saturn V launch vehicle, the rocket that propelled astronauts to the Moon in July of 1969. Although NASA built enough Saturn Vs for 15 lunar missions, budget restrictions and public disinterest eventually ended the Apollo program. Fortunately, the Apollo Applications Program (AAP) was able to identify potential uses for leftover Saturn V components. On August 8, 1969 – less than one month after Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon – McDonnell Douglas was awarded a contract to convert the second stage of a Saturn V into an orbital workshop. As the result of a contest at the Marshall Space Center, the future space station was named Skylab.

America's first space station was launched into space on May 14, 1973 aboard one of NASA's remaining Saturn V boosters. Almost immediately, the Skylab 1 mission faced serious problems. First, a critical shield tore and damaged one of Skylab's two solar panels. Next, a piece of the torn shield wrapped around the other solar panel, preventing deployment. To compensate for this loss of solar power, Skylab's Apollo Telescope Mount (ATM) was repositioned to face the sun. When onboard temperatures rose to 126° F, however, NASA engineers worked to "roll" the laboratory and its sensitive equipment away from Earth's nearest star. Eleven days later, on May 25, 1973, astronauts from Skylab 2 rendezvoused with the ailing spacecraft and deployed a parasol sunshade which cooled the inside temperature to 75° F.

Resources:

http://www-pao.ksc.nasa.gov/history/skylab/skylab.htm

http://history.msfc.nasa.gov/skylab/docs/skylab.pdf

http://www.nasaexplores.com/show2_articlea.php?id=03-062

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Space_Flight_Center

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Anonymous Poster
#1

Re: May 14, 1973 – Skylab is Launched

05/16/2007 9:46 AM

This is my favorite Skylab picture.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Israel
Posts: 2923
Good Answers: 24
#3
In reply to #1

Re: May 14, 1973 – Skylab is Launched

05/17/2007 6:29 PM

Taken from...?

Reply
Anonymous Poster
#2

Re: May 14, 1973 – Skylab is Launched

05/17/2007 3:31 PM

Don't forget "Don't Bring Me Down" by ELO!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don't_Bring_Me_Down

Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 3 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Previous in Blog: May 10, 1960 – Circumnavigating the Earth Underwater   Next in Blog: May 15, 1942 – Mandatory Gasoline Rationing

Advertisement