Apollo project
mission emblem
mission data
mission: Skylab 1
crew: (three crews to ever three astronauts)
start to: 14. May 1973
reentry to: 11. July 1979
duration: 6 years, 58 days
glows over: Australia
orbits around the earth: 34.981
previous mission:

Apollo 17

the following mission:

Skylab 2

Skylabs is the name for the first and only US-American space station as well as the name for the space missions in this connection.

Table of contents


still during the preparation of the Apollo project at NASA considerations for the future of manned space travel were already employed. For thisin August 1965 the Saturn/Apollo Applications Office was created.

Already in the apron NASA had looked for new astronauts. This mark were in demand not test pilots, but scientists. To 28. June 1965 Owen K became. Garriott, Edward G. Gibson, DuaneE. Graveline, Joseph P. Kerwin, franc C. Michel and Harrison H. Schmitt of the public as science astronauts presented.

Contrary to the Apolloprojekt, which had clearly the moon-landing as a goal, the goals of the Apollo Application Programs were rather vague. Itmany suggestions were compiled, which had Saturn rockets and Apollo spaceships as basis. The only project however, which was carried out, was an orbiting space station with three men crew. Starting from February 1970 for this the name Skylab was officially used.

thatStructure of Skylab

the structure of Skylab

the space laboratory Skylab consisted mainly of the second stage of the Saturn 1-B-Rakete AS-212 (identical to the third stage of a Saturn V), which became to already provide on earth with supplies and equipment. Forthe start only two stages of a Saturn V were thus used. This was first and at the same time the last start of a Saturn V in this configuration, because so far this rocket type had been used only for Apollo spaceships.

Except the cylindric main moduleSkylab still consisted of a Andockmodul for two Apollo spaceships, which served also as air lock, as well as the Sonnenobservatorium (Apollo Telescope Mount, AT). The power supply was planned with four solar modules to AT and two further on the main module. The mass amounted to over 90Tons. Altogether Skylab was substantially larger than the Soviet space station Salyut 1, which had been started in April 1971.

the start of Skylab 1

Start des Weltraumlabors
start of the space laboratory

the start of this first American space station should to 14. May 1973 from the Startkomplex 39-A in Cape Canaveral take place. On the subsequent day the first crew with a Saturn-1B-Rakete of the launch pad 39-B should follow. The three crews would carry the mission designations Skylab 2 , Skylab 3 and Skylab 4.

Those Saturn V, which should be used for Skylab 1, the SA-513, was a little shorter than the models, which were used for the moon flights. It did not have an escape tower, no Apollo spaceship and no adapter for the lunar excursion module. In additionthis rocket used only two stages. In place of the third stage transported it the space station. This flight was the last one of a Saturn V.

It was the first time that COUNT down by two Saturn rockets one prepared at the same time. Something similar had itbut already in December 1965 given, when Gemini 7 and Gemini 6 were successively started.

damage when starting

Skylab, taken up of Skylab 4 to 8. February 1974. The missing solar cell wing and the heat protective plastic film are well toorecognize

Skylabs 1 main header as planned to 14. May 1973 off. But the ground station alarming telemetry signals received already 63 seconds after the start. A lining had obviously separated, whereby one of the solar modules and a meteorite shield were destroyed. The space stationif the planned orbit reached, was however not functional.

It succeeded to the flight line to drive the four solar modules out of the solar observatory but seemed it problems with the two other modules to give. The missing meteorite shield should have served also as thermic protection,why in the station the temperature rose strongly, so that had to be feared that food, medicines and films would be spoiled.

As the first reaction the start was shifted of Skylab 2, to one itself a clear picture of the situationto make could. In addition the flight line tried to achieve a favorable adjustment from Skylabs to. If the functional solar cells were turned to the sun, sufficient energy could be won, at the same time heated itself the station however strongly. One turned the station in such a way thatthe place with the missing shield in the shade was appropriate, delivered also the solar cells too for little achievement and the charge of the batteries decreased strongly. NASA engineers had now the problem, energy reserves, fuel reserves and temperature of the space station in the framework toohold. If it would not be possible within days to repair the damage the station would be lost. Two weeks long the station was steered in such a way, while the Skylab-2-Mission was prepared.

Fortunately it succeeded to the crews during the missions Skylab 2 and Skylab 3 to repair the damage. The station was afterwards fully functional. More over the repair work in the appropriate articles.


Alan Bean während einer EVA
Alan Bean during EH

three crews from in each case three astronauts spent altogether 513Man-days in the universe. Since the start was counted of Skylabs as mission 1, the manned missions began with the number 2:

to the tasks of the crews counted first the repair of the damaged space station. Furthermore realizations were won over the effects of the long-term stay in weightlessness. In addition belonged apart from some bioassays with fishand spiders extensive sunning and earth observations as well as photographs of the comet Kohoutek to the program.

The start took place, similar to the Apollo Soyuz project, from one by means of an essay shortened launch pad.


after three crews the space station 28, 59 and 84Days had inhabited, became them 8. February 1974 by the Apollo cap pushed by Skylab 4 into a higher orbit. After the computations of NASA Skylab thereby should survive about nine further years. The reentry into the terrestrial atmosphere became on March 1983 estimated. One planned at this time still that about 1979 a space shuttle a drive module could couple at Skylabs, in order to bring the space laboratory back into a higher orbit.

Most systems of the space station were switched off, and Skylabs circledthe earth several years, without to be considered. In March 1978 the contact was again taken up to Skylabs. The station obviously rotated with one period of six minutes per revolution, and the radios worked only, if the solar modules in the sunlightwere. After one week it succeeded to load several batteries remote controlled. The central computer worked still satisfyingly.

It turned out however that Skylab sank faster than computed, and that the space shuttle would not become in time finished. To 19. December 1978 communicated NASA that one could not save Skylabs that one would undertake however everything, in order to minimize the risk from crash damage to. For this NASA co-operated closely with the supervising authority North American Aerospace Defense COMMAND (NORAD). NASA andNORAD used different calculation methods for the reentry and came therefore on different results for time and place of the fall. Officially however always the NORAD results admits given.

NASA planned, by the adjustment of the space station the atmospheric friction steers toocan, in order to retard or accelerate the crash. Skylab should be shifted by remote control then at a certain time in rotation with well-known aerodynamics. Thus the danger zone could be shifted within close borders.

The crash took place then to 11. July 1979. The last orbit of Skylabs led to a large extent across water surfaces, and NASA gave the last control command, in order to shift the danger zone away from North America on the Atlantic and the Indian ocean. The station actually broke onlylater than computes into several parts, so that the crash area was further east as planned. Concerned the area was southeast from Perth in west Australia, where rubble in the dark morning hours came down, without hurting someone.

The entire missionabout 2.6 billion US Dollar cost.

see space travel


the following NASA books (all in English) are accessible to on-line:

in addition upthe sides NASA of the History Office:

Web on the left of

Commons: Skylab - pictures, videos and/or audio files

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