Skylab 4

Apollo project
mission emblem
mission data
mission: Skylab 4
Science astronaut:
Gerald Carr
William Pogue
Edward Gibson
start to: 16. November 1973
landing to: 8. February 1974
duration: 84 days, 1 hour
landing strip: Pacific
orbits around the earth: 1214
salvage vessel: USS new Orleans
crew photo

Skylab 4 - v.l.n.r. Gerald Carr, Edward G. Gibson, William R. Pogue

previous mission:

Skylab the 3

following mission:

Apollo Soyuz (ASTP)

Skylab 4 (SL-4) was the third and last crew of the American space station Skylab. It set new records in the Weltraumfahrt and marked the point of conclusion for American space stations.

To table of contents

the crew

as well as the crews of Skylabs 2 and Skylab 3 became to 19. January 1972 of NASA also the crew of Skylab 4 admits given. It was surprising that the command was given to an astronaut without space experience. That had happened the last mark 1966 with Neil Armstrong.

The command of Skylab 4 should take over thus Gerald Carr. As a pilot William Pogue was divided and the science astronaut Edward Gibson completed the Trio.

As is the case for Skylab 3 those consisted reinforcement of the commander Vance fire, the pilot Don Lind and the scientist William Lenoir. The support crew was for all three Skylab missions Robert Crippen, smelling pool of broadcasting corporations Truly, Henry Hartsfield and William Thornton.

The mission ran officially under the designation Skylab 4, however often also as Skylab 3 was designated, because it concerned the third crew of the space station.

the preparation

the outstanding work of the second crew set new yardsticks, so that the flight line packed the work programme of the mission rather closely. Some new experiments were added, and the recently discovered comet Kohoutek offered sensational observation possibilities.

The individual parts of the Saturn-1B-Rakete AS-208 were delivered between November 1971 and June 1973 at the Kennedy space center. To 6. August 1973 was installed the Apollo spaceship CSM-118, to 14. August could be transported the rocket to the launch pad 39B.

The start was first for the 11. November 1973 intended, but five days before this date tears in all eight Stabiliserungsflossen of the rocket were determined. The fins had to be exchanged, so that the start was shifted.


Skylab 4 main headers then to 16. November 1973 of Cape Canaveral off. After approximately eight hours it, the Apollo spaceship at Skylabs succeeded anzudocken.

After the experiences with the spacesickness of the second crew the flight line had decided that the first night should spend the astronauts still on board Apollo, because obviously weightlessness promotes the space craneness in large, open areas.

On this evening Pogue had to hand itself over, while Skylab was still outside of the radio range of the ground stations. The astronauts were afraid that the physicians would attach too much value to this incident, on which the mission was retarded or perhaps even broken off. Therefore reported Carr only of Pogues indisposition, mentioned however not that Pogue had handed itself over. The astronauts had however forgotten with the fact that the discussions in the cockpit were noted automatically and overacted time-delayed to the ground stations. In this way the flight line experienced true circumstances, which registered Carr a Rüge on the next day.

It did not prevail good relationship between the astronauts and the flight line on earth. A pushed routine of the day left only little spare time to the astronauts, whereby the allowed time of different tasks were also not absolutely realistic. In some cases the astronauts experiments had to develop, which had seen them never before. The crew felt überfordet, to a clarifying discussion came it however only very late, after the crew had freely taken itself without permission one day. This point is not mentioned only veiling in the official NASA documentation or; there is in addition only few reliable information.

The crew accomplished four space walks with altogether 22 hours of duration, at which in each case two astronauts were involved. The work on the space station to 25. Decembers set a new record with 7 hours and 1 minute.

An important part of the scientific work was the observation of the Komets Kohoutek, which had been briefly before discovered only. Among other things for the first time spectroscopically water in the comet nucleus could be proven.

Skylab, taken up to 8. February 1974

to 8. February 1974 transferred Carr, Pogue and Gibson into the Apollo spaceship. While they were still coupled, they ignited the engines three minutes long, in order to bring Skylabs into a higher orbit. After the computations of NASA should provide this for nine further years in the orbit. Some food, as well as clothes and articles of equipment remained on board. One should before the crash again the space station entered (the Erststart of the space shuttle was planned for five years later) could one the effects of the Langzeitlagerung examine.

Briefly after igniting the brake rockets for the reentry noticed Carr that the control engines did not react, so that it had to change over to a replacement system. Later it turned out that some switches had been wrongly served before. This incident showed that it was not completely harmless to remain twelve weeks on board a space station without from time to time the controlling of the spaceship to train.

meaning for the Skylab project

from scientific view was also the third Skylab mission a full success. The astronauts returned many valuable scientific data to the earth, among them also pictures of a comet, which cannot be photographed in this kind from the earth. In addition for the first time a Protuberanz in its developing phase could be photographed with the Sonnenobservatorium.

Skylab 4 had broken the long-term record of Skylab 3. With 84 days regarded Carr, Pogue and Gibson the record for the longest space flight, in addition, the record as the entire flight duration of a spaceman. Only 1978 should remain longer Georgi Grechko and Juri Romanenko on board Salyut 6 in the universe.

In addition, the long-term missions of Skylabs contributed to it that in the public the fascination of manned space travel diminished. For the first time the splash-down of a Apolloflugs was not transferred live in the television.

Skylab should remain the only American space station. A repetition of this project was not intended, and NASA concentrated now on the development of the re-usable space shuttle, which should replace the nonreusable rockets with end of the 1970er years. Still the Apollo Soyuz project was before intended, with which an American Apollo spaceship should couple to a Soviet Soyuz spaceship. Thus the Apollo era would be terminated.

psychological problems with long-term missions

as after conclusion of the project the works of the three teams were compared in each case in their third and fourth week, turned out no significant difference. Also the third crew had reached more than was planned.

There were serious differences however with the personalities of the three teams. The necessary repairs during the first crew produced a certain pioneer feeling, while the second crew concentrated fully on the work and took themselves only little spare time. With the third crew there were most tensions, and unexpressed problems loaded the project. None of the astronauts of the third team was nominated a second time for a space flight.

Three reasons contributed to this conflict. First of all the large working load is to be called. The third Skylab crew had no longer working day than the two preceding teams, had however this achievement not only over or two, but over three months to furnish. Secondly was loaded from the second day to the confidence between flight line and crew, when the astronauts did not announce the space illness of Pogue. Thirdly there were inevitable technical inadequacies on board always again, at which the crew in the course of the time was annoyed increasingly. The developing discontent unloaded itself then in the discussions with the flight line.

Altogether parallels can be quite pulled to the flight of Apollo 7. The astronauts Schirra, Cunningham and Eisele were likewise exposed to a high working load with the first flight of the Apollo spaceship in October 1968. Additionally the astronauts were provoked by a cold and feared lasting health damage with the reentry. Contrary to the Skylab crew the different points of view were brought however directly over radio to the language.

Skylab remained the only American space station, however the experiences could also for mission on board Soviet me and the international space station EAT to be used. It was shown that for the astronauts a balanced relationship between work and spare time must be planned, which of mission profile and - duration depends. Further the astronauts, in addition, experienced ex astronauts must be included, strongly into mission planning. Also a good personal relationship to the coworkers in the flight line is important. Naturally mission planning must plan also sufficient alternatives, in order to be able to react flexibly, if certain work is planned accomplished faster or more slowly than.

With future space journeys, for example a manned Mars flight cannot only work overloading a problem become, but also boredom during flight phases, in which there are few to do for the crew.

Finally also the composition of the crew plays a large role. Fortunately the astronauts understood themselves among themselves very well at all three Skylab teams, so that it came to no larger tensions on board.

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