High Above The Blue
Skylab was the first space station launched and operated by NASA. Its launch was also the final flight of the mighty Saturn V rocket. Skylab was launched on May 14, 1973. The station was critically damaged during the launch losing its meteorite shield and one of the solar arrays responsible for providing power to the station. The other solar array failed to deploy properly. Without the shield, the station was uninhabitable due to high temperatures inside the station. The first manned mission (Skylab 2) to the station effected repairs. A heat shield parasol was deployed bringing the internal temperature to a comfortable level. The Skylab 2 crew stayed 28 days in orbit. The crew was also able to get the second solar array to deploy properly. The second manned mission (Skylab 3) to the station deployed a twin poled sunshade originally brought to the station by Skylab 2. The Skylab 3 crew remained in orbit for 59 days. Skylab 4 launched on November 16, 1973 and remained in orbit for 84 days. During its use the station advanced mankind’s knowledge of solar physics as well as life science and material science. Student designed experiments were also performed on the station. Skylab famously fell back to Earth July 11, 1979. Most of the station ended up in the Indian Ocean but some components made landfall in Western Australia.