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Born on this day
Edward Flanders Robb Ricketts
Edward Flanders Robb Ricketts was an American marine biologist, ecologist, and philosopher.
19th week in year
14 May 2022

Important eventsBack

Skylab, the United States' first space station, is launched14.5.1973

Wikipedia (09 Apr 2013, 11:00)
Skylab was a space station launched and operated by NASA (the space agency of the United States) and was the U.S.'s first space station. Skylab orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979, and included a workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems. It was launched unmanned by a modified Saturn V rocket, with a mass of 169,950 pounds (77 t). Three manned missions to the station, conducted between 1973 and 1974 using the Apollo Command/Service Module (CSM) atop the smaller Saturn IB, each delivered a three-astronaut crew. On the last two manned missions, an additional Apollo / Saturn IB stood by ready to rescue the crew in orbit if it was needed.

Completion and launch

On 8 August 1969, the McDonnell Douglas Corporation received a contract for the conversion of two existing S-IVB stages to the Orbital Workshop configuration. One of the S-IV test stages was shipped to McDonnell Douglas for the construction of a mock-up in January 1970. The Orbital Workshop was renamed "Skylab" in February 1970 as a result of a NASA contest. The actual stage that flew was the upper stage of the AS-212 rocket (the S-IVB stage - S-IVB 212). The mission computer used aboard Skylab was the IBM System/4Pi TC-1, a relative of the AP-101 Space Shuttle computers.

Skylab was launched 14 May 1973 by a Saturn V (the last launch of such a rocket) with the upper stage removed, but with the avionics remaining in the same position (different from the Saturn INT-21 rocket, which could launch payloads not based on the S-IVB) into a 235-nautical-mile (435-km) orbit. The launch is sometimes referred to as Skylab 1, or SL-1. Severe damage was sustained during launch and deployment, including the loss of the station's micrometeoroid shield/sun shade and one of its main solar panels. Debris from the lost micrometeoroid shield further complicated matters by pinning the remaining solar panel to the side of the station, preventing its deployment and thus leaving the station with a huge power deficit.

Immediately following Skylab's launch, Pad A at Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 was deactivated, and construction proceeded to modify it for the Space Shuttle program, originally targeting a maiden launch in June 1979. The manned missions to Skylab would occur from Launch Pad 39B.

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