Skylab at 40

15 May

 

The year was 1973 and NASA was going into a new phase of space exploration after ending the manned moon missions. That new phase would be scientific experimentation and studying the sun’s activity. To begin this new phase on May 14, 1973 they launched the first space station as a Saturn V rocket lifted off carrying Skylab I. During that launch Skylab did take some damage that was repaired on a later mission.

“Skylab’s success proved many things. Chief among these is man’s capability not only to sustain long periods of weightlessness but to live and work effectively in the space environment,” Leland F. Belew wrote in his book “Skylab, our first space station”. “And the program provided a vast amount of scientific data which scientists will be analyzing for many years.”

That year saw three manned missions to Skylab to test human endurance, collect data about the solar system and do some space walking experimentation. After the third manned mission, labeled SL4, that ended in early 1974 Skylab was left floating in space abandoned by NASA. They still had some plans for the space station in later years after the space shuttle was ready for launch. Unfortunately, before the shuttle was ready the time of neglect had taken it toll on Skylab and in 1979 it fell out of orbit and fell back to Earth.

So today we say happy 40th to you Skylab. You died before your time but served us well will you were around. You were the first of your kind and gave way to bigger space stations they carried on your work.

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