Sunday, February 04, 2024

Remembering Skylab 4: 50th Anniversary | America's First Space Station (1973-1974)

Remembering Skylab 4: 50th Anniversary America's First Space Station (1973-1974)

NASA Astronauts Carr and Pogue demonstrate weight training in zero-gravity

Astronaut Gerald Carr floats in forward dome area
Scientist-astronaut Edward G. Gibson has just egressed the Skylab EVA hatchway in this frame taken from a roll of movie film exposed by a 16mm Maurer camera. Astronaut Gerald P. Carr, Skylab 4 commander, took this picture during the final Skylab extravehicular activity (EVA) that took place on Feb. 3, 1974. Carr was above on the Apollo Telescope Mount (ATM) when he shot this frame of Gibson. Note Carr's umbilical/tether line extending from inside the space station up toward the camera. Astronaut William R. Pogue, Skylab 4 pilot, remained inside the space station during the EVA by Carr and Gibson.
This photograph was taken as the third crew (Skylab-4) departed the space station. The solar observatory was designed for full exposure to the Sun throughout most of the Skylab mission. Solar energy was transformed into electrical power for operation of all spacecraft systems. The proper operation of these solar arrays was vital to the mission. This Skylab in orbit view was taken by the Skylab-4 crew.
This image of Skylab in orbit was taken as the third crew (Skylab-4) departed the space station after 84 days in the orbiting laboratory. "A smiling Skylab seemed to wink good-bye for the job well done."
These three men were the prime crewmen for the Skylab 4 mission. Pictured in their flight suits with a globe and a model of the Skylab space station are, left to right, astronaut Gerald P. Carr, commander; scientist-astronaut Edward G. Gibson, science pilot; and astronaut William R. Pogue, pilot.
Skylab 4 (IV) Launch on a Saturn 1B space vehicle: Nov. 16, 1973

Skylab 4 Mission: Crew Emblem
"The symbols in the patch refer to the three major areas of investigation in the mission. The tree represents man's natural environment and relates directly to the Skylab mission objectives of advancing the study of Earth resources. The hydrogen atom, as the basic building block of the universe, represents man's exploration of the physical world, his application of knowledge, and his development of technology. Since the sun is composed primarily of hydrogen, it is appropriate that the symbol refers to the solar physics mission objectives. The human silhouette represents mankind and the human capacity to direct technology with a wisdom tempered by regard for his natural environment. It also directly relates to the Skylab medical studies of man himself. The rainbow, adopted from the Biblical story of the flood, symbolizes the promise that is offered man. It embraces man and extends to the tree and the hydrogen atom emphasizing man's pivotal role in the conciliation of technology with nature."

Skylab was a United States experimental space station consisting of a 100-ton laboratory complex where medical, scientific, and technological experiments were performed in Earth orbit. The Skylab Program emerged from the Apollo Applications Program of the mid-1960s that sought to use hardware from the Apollo Moon landing program to develop America’s first space station. To build Skylab, engineers converted a Saturn rocket upper stage into an orbital workshop designed to house three successive crews of three astronauts. 

The third and final crew to the Skylab space station completed a record-breaking 84 days in space while continuing the program's scientific objectives of making Earth resources, solar astronomy, and medical experiment observations. Skylab’s third crew was unusual in that all three astronauts were on their first trip into space. Gerald P. Carr, the commander, was a Marine Corps lieutenant colonel. Dr. Edward G. Gibson, science pilot, had joined NASA in 1965. The agency gave him pilot training. Lt. Col. William Pogue, U.S. Air Force, rounded out the crew.

Skylab was intended as a research platform in low-Earth orbit, focusing primarily on studying human adaptation to long-duration spaceflight, observing the Sun, and monitoring the Earth. Investigations in physics, materials processing, and student-designed experiments rounded out Skylab’s research portfolio. A series of experiments investigated the responses of the astronauts’ physiologic systems to the effects of long-duration weightlessness. The Apollo Telescope Mount (ATM) contained instruments to observe the Sun and other celestial objects, while instruments looking down at the home planet comprised the Earth Resources Experiment Package.

Skylab Mission 4
Space Station Crew
Gerald P. Carr, Edward G. Gibson, William R. Pogue
Launch: Nov. 16, 1973
Landing: Feb. 8, 1974

Learn more about Skylab 4: 

Image Credit: NASA
Image Dates: Aug. 1973-Feb. 1974

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