Skylab, America’s first space station, was launched on May 14, 1973. Almost immediately after it reached orbit NASA discovered technical problems caused by the launch. A critical meteoroid shield ripped off taking one of the craft’s two solar panels with it; a piece of the shield wrapped around the other panel keeping it from deploying.
The first manned mission, commanded by Charles Conrad, became a repair mission that involved a spacewalk to free a solar panel and deploy a parasol sunshade.
Successful in all respects, despite the early mechanical difficulties, the station was occupied by three crews for a total of 171 days, 13 hours. It was the site of nearly 300 scientific and technical experiments.
The empty Skylab spacecraft returned to Earth July 11, 1979 scattering debris over the Indian Ocean and the sparsely settled region of Western Australia.
- To prove that humans could live and work in space for extended periods
- Expand our knowledge of solar astronomy well beyond Earth-based observations
- Skylab 1
May 14, 1973
Skylab station launched unmanned into orbit by a Saturn V rocket.