Skylab, the United States’ first space station was launched May 14, 1973. Now WE know em

Skylab_launch

The space station Skylab, developed and operated by NASA, included a workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems.

It was launched May 14, 1973 by a modified Saturn V rocket.

Skylab was damaged during launch when the micrometeoroid shield separated from the workshop and tore away, taking one of two main solar panel arrays with it and jamming the other one so that it could not deploy. This deprived Skylab of most of its electrical power, and also removed protection from intense solar heating, threatening to make it unusable.

NASA’s “Mr. Fix It” Jack Kinzler found a solution that did not require a dangerous spacewalk by the first Skylab crew.

The first of three, 3 astronaut crew, missions was able to save it in the first in-space major repair, by deploying a replacement heat shade and freeing the jammed solar panels.

737px-Skylab_(SL-4)

Numerous scientific experiments were conducted aboard Skylab during its operational life, and crews were able to confirm the existence of coronal holes in our Sun.

The Earth Resources Experiment Package (EREP) was also used to view Earth with sensors that recorded data in the visible, infrared, and microwave spectral regions. Thousands of photographs of our planet were taken, and records for human time spent in orbit were extended.

Plans were made to refurbish and reuse Skylab, using the Space Shuttle to boost its orbit and repair it.

However, development of the Space Shuttle was delayed, and Skylab reentered Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated on July 20, 1979, with debris striking portions of Western Australia.

Now WE know em

 

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