Skylab 3

Last updated

Skylab 3
Skylab 3 Close-Up - GPN-2000-001711.jpg
Skylab as seen by the arriving Skylab 3 crew
Operator NASA
COSPAR ID 1973-050A
SATCAT no. 6757
Mission duration59 days, 11 hours, 09 minutes, 01 seconds
Distance travelled39,400,000 kilometers (24,500,000 mi)
Orbits completed858
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft Apollo CSM-117
Manufacturer North American Rockwell
Launch mass20,121 kilograms (44,359 lb)
Crew size3
Start of mission
Launch dateJuly 28, 1973, 11:10:50 (1973-07-28UTC11:10:50Z) UTC
Rocket Saturn IB SA-207
Launch site Kennedy LC-39B
End of mission
Recovered by USS New Orleans
Landing dateSeptember 25, 1973, 22:19:51 (1973-09-25UTC22:19:52Z) UTC
Landing site 30°47′N120°29′W / 30.783°N 120.483°W / 30.783; -120.483
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Perigee altitude 423 kilometers (263 mi)
Apogee altitude 441 kilometers (274 mi)
Inclination 50.0 degrees
Period 93.2 minutes
Epoch August 8, 1973 [1]
Docking with Skylab
Docking portForward
Docking dateJuly 28, 1973, 19:37:00 UTC
Undocking dateSeptember 25, 1973, 11:16:42 UTC
Time docked58 days, 15 hours, 39 minutes, 42 seconds
Due to a NASA management error, crewed Skylab mission patches were designed in conflict with the official mission numbering scheme.
L-R: Garriott, Lousma and Bean
Skylab program
  Skylab 2
Skylab 4  

Skylab 3 (also SL-3 and SLM-2 [2] ) was the second crewed mission to the first American space station, Skylab. The mission began July 28, 1973, with the launch of three astronauts on the Saturn IB rocket, and lasted 59 days, 11 hours and 9 minutes. A total of 1,084.7 astronaut-utilization hours were tallied by the Skylab 3 crew performing scientific experiments in the areas of medical activities, solar observations, Earth resources, and other experiments.

Human spaceflight Space travel by humans

Human spaceflight is space travel with a crew or passengers aboard the spacecraft. Spacecraft carrying people may be operated directly, by human crew, or it may be either remotely operated from ground stations on Earth or be autonomous, able to carry out a specific mission with no human involvement.

Skylab 1st space station launched and operated by NASA

Skylab was the first space station launched and operated by NASA, occupied for about 24 weeks between May 1973 and February 1974. It was the only space station that the United States has operated exclusively. It fell back to Earth amid worldwide media attention in 1979. Skylab included a workshop, a solar observatory, and several hundred life science and physical science experiments.

Saturn IB

The Saturn IB was an American launch vehicle commissioned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for the Apollo program. It replaced the S-IV second stage of the Saturn I with the much more powerful S-IVB, able to launch a partially fueled Apollo command and service module (CSM) or a fully fueled Apollo Lunar Module (LM) into low Earth orbit for early flight tests before the larger Saturn V needed for lunar flight was ready.


The crewed Skylab missions were officially designated Skylab 2, 3, and 4. Mis-communication about the numbering resulted in the mission emblems reading "Skylab I", "Skylab II", and "Skylab 3" respectively. [2] [3]

Skylab 2 first crewed mission to Skylab

Skylab 2 was the first crewed mission to Skylab, the first U.S. orbital space station. The mission was launched on a Saturn IB rocket on May 25, 1973, and carried a three-person crew to the station. The name Skylab 2 also refers to the vehicle used for that mission. The Skylab 2 mission established a twenty-eight-day record for human spaceflight duration. Furthermore, its crew were the first space station occupants ever to return safely to Earth – the only previous space station occupants, the crew of the 1971 Soyuz 11 mission that had crewed the Salyut 1 station for twenty-four days, died upon reentry due to unexpected cabin depressurization.

Skylab 4 Third and final crewed mission to Skylab

Skylab 4 was the third crewed Skylab mission and placed the third and final crew aboard the first American space station.


Position Astronaut
Commander Alan L. Bean
Second and last spaceflight
Science Pilot Owen K. Garriott
First spaceflight
Pilot Jack R. Lousma
First spaceflight

Backup crew

Position Astronaut
Commander Vance D. Brand
Science Pilot William B. Lenoir
Pilot Don L. Lind

Support crew

Robert Crippen NASA astronaut, flew on the first space shuttle mission

Robert Laurel Crippen is an American retired naval officer and aviator, test pilot, aerospace engineer, and retired astronaut. He traveled into space four times: as Pilot of STS-1 in April 1981, the first Space Shuttle mission; and as Commander of STS-7 in June 1983, STS-41-C in April 1984, and STS-41-G in October 1984. Crippen received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

Henry Hartsfield American astronaut

Henry Warren "Hank" Hartsfield Jr. was a United States Air Force officer and a USAF and NASA astronaut who logged over 480 hours in space.

William E. Thornton American astronaut

William Edgar Thornton (M.D.) is a former NASA astronaut. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from University of North Carolina and a doctorate in medicine, also from UNC. He flew on Challenger twice, the STS-8 and STS-51B missions.

Mission parameters

Days in Space
    Skylab 2
    Skylab 3
    Skylab 4
    Orbital period time taken to make one complete orbit

    The orbital period is the time a given astronomical object takes to complete one orbit around another object, and applies in astronomy usually to planets or asteroids orbiting the Sun, moons orbiting planets, exoplanets orbiting other stars, or binary stars.


    • Docked: July 28, 1973 – 19:37:00 UTC
    • Undocked: September 25, 1973 – 11:16:42 UTC
    • Time Docked: 58 days, 15 hours, 39 minutes, 42 seconds

    Space walks

    Garriott and Lousma — EVA 1
    Start: August 6, 1973, 17:30 UTC
    End: August 7, 00:01 UTC
    Duration: 6 hours, 31 minutes
    Garriott and Lousma — EVA 2
    Start: August 24, 1973, 16:24 UTC
    End: August 24, 20:55 UTC
    Duration: 4 hours, 31 minutes
    Bean and Garriott — EVA 3
    Start: September 22, 1973, 11:18 UTC
    End: September 22, 13:59 UTC
    Duration: 2 hours, 41 minutes

    Mission highlights

    Skylab 3 heads into orbit aboard a Saturn IB Skylab 3 Launch (19293032373).jpg
    Skylab 3 heads into orbit aboard a Saturn IB
    Astronaut Jack Lousma participates in an EVA SL3-117-2099.jpg
    Astronaut Jack Lousma participates in an EVA
    This shows an extreme ultraviolet view of the Sun (the Apollo Telescope Mount SO82A Experiment) taken during Skylab 3, with the Earth added for scale. On the right an image of the Sun shows a helium emissions, and there is an image on the left showing emissions from iron S74-15583skylabsunview.jpg
    This shows an extreme ultraviolet view of the Sun (the Apollo Telescope Mount SO82A Experiment) taken during Skylab 3, with the Earth added for scale. On the right an image of the Sun shows a helium emissions, and there is an image on the left showing emissions from iron

    During the approach phase, a propellant leak developed in one of the Apollo Service Module's reaction control system thruster quads. The crew was able to safely dock with Skylab, but troubleshooting continued with the problem. Six days later, another thruster quad developed a leak, creating concern amongst Mission Control. For the first time, an Apollo spacecraft would be rolled out to Launch Complex 39 for a rescue mission, made possible by the ability for the station to have two Apollo CSMs docked at the same time. It was eventually determined that the CSM could be safely maneuvered using only two working thruster quads, and the rescue mission was never launched.

    Skylab Rescue

    The Skylab Rescue Mission was a backup rescue flight as part of a contingency plan for the Skylab space station. It used a modified Apollo Command Module that could be launched with a crew of two and return a crew of five.

    The crew, during their first EVA, installed the twin-pole sunshade, one of the two solutions for the destruction of the micrometeoroid shield during Skylab's launch to keep the space station cool. It was installed over the parasol, which was originally deployed through a porthole airlock during Skylab 2. Both were brought to the station by Skylab 2.

    Extravehicular activity Activity done by an astronaut or cosmonaut outside a spacecraft

    Extravehicular activity (EVA) is any activity done by an astronaut or cosmonaut outside a spacecraft beyond the Earth's appreciable atmosphere. The term most commonly applies to a spacewalk made outside a craft orbiting Earth, but also has applied to lunar surface exploration performed by six pairs of American astronauts in the Apollo program from 1969 to 1972. On each of the last three of these missions, astronauts also performed deep-space EVAs on the return to Earth, to retrieve film canisters from the outside of the spacecraft. Astronauts also used EVA in 1973 to repair launch damage to Skylab, the United States' first space station.

    Skylab 3 continued a comprehensive medical research program that extended the data on human physiological adaptation and readaptation to space flight collected on the previous Skylab 2 mission. In addition, Skylab 3 extended the astronauts' stay in space from approximately one month to two months. Therefore, the effects of flight duration on physiological adaptation and readaptation could be examined.

    A set of core medical investigations were performed on all three Skylab crewed missions. These core investigations were the same basic investigations that were performed on Skylab 2, except that the Skylab 3 inflight tests were supplemented with extra tests based on what researchers learned from the Skylab 2 science results. For example, only leg volume measurements, preflight and postflight stereophotogrammetry, and in-flight maximum calf girth measurements were originally scheduled for all three Skylab missions.

    In-flight photographs from Skylab 2 revealed the "puffy face syndrome" which prompted the addition of in-flight torso and limb girth measurements to gather more data on the apparent headward fluid shift on Skylab 3. Other additional tests included arterial blood flow measurements by an occlusive cuff placed around the leg, facial photographs taken before flight and during flight to study the "puffy face syndrome", venous compliance, hemoglobin, urine specific gravity, and urine mass measurements. These inflight tests gave additional information about fluid distribution and fluid balance to get a better understanding of the fluid shift phenomena.

    The Skylab 3 biological experiments studied the effects of microgravity on mice, fruit flies, single cells and cell culture media. Human lung cells were flown to examine the biochemical characteristics of cell cultures in the microgravity environment. The two animal experiments were entitled Chronobiology of Pocket Mice and Circadian Rhythm in Vinegar Gnats. Both experiments were unsuccessful due to a power failure 30 hours after launch, which killed the animals. [4]

    High school students from across the United States participated in the Skylab missions as the primary investigators of experiments that studied astronomy, physics, and fundamental biology. The student experiments performed on Skylab 3 included the study of libration clouds, X-rays from Jupiter, in-vitro immunology, spider web formation, cytoplasmic streaming, mass measurement, and neutron analysis.

    The crew's health was assessed on Skylab by collecting data on dental health, environmental and crew microbiology, radiation, and toxicological aspects of the Skylab orbital workshop. Other assessments were made of astronaut maneuvering equipment and of the habitability of the crew quarters, and crew activities/maintenance experiments were examined on Skylab 2 through 4 to better understand the living and working aspects of life in space.

    Mission insignia

    The circular crew patch was Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man , representing the mission's medical experiments and retouched to remove the genitalia. In the background is a disk that is half Sun (including sunspots) and half Earth to represent the experiments done on the flight. The patch has a white background, the crew's names and "Skylab II" with a red, white and blue border. The wives of the crew secretly had an alternate graphic made of a 'universal woman' with their first names in place of the crew's. Stickers with this on them were put in lockers aboard the Command Module to surprise the crew. [5]

    Spacecraft location

    The Skylab 3 Command Module being moved to the Great Lakes Science Center Skylab 3 Apollo Command Module.JPG
    The Skylab 3 Command Module being moved to the Great Lakes Science Center

    The Apollo Command Module used on Skylab 3 is currently on display at the visitor's center of the NASA Glenn Research Center at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio. [6]

    The module used to be at Glenn visitor center, and was moved to the Great Lakes Science Center in June 2010. [7] It took a year to plan and US$120,000 to move the capsule. [7]

    See also

    Related Research Articles

    Apollo 9 3rd crewed mission of the Apollo space program

    Apollo 9 was a March 1969 human spaceflight, the third crewed mission in the United States Apollo program. Flown in low Earth orbit, it was the second crewed Apollo mission to be launched by a Saturn V rocket, and the first flight of the full Apollo spacecraft: the command and service module (CSM) with the Lunar Module (LM). The mission was flown to qualify the LM for lunar orbit operations by demonstrating its descent and ascent propulsion systems, showing that its crew could fly it independently, then rendezvous and dock with the CSM again, as would be required for the first crewed lunar landing. Other objectives of the flight included firing the LM descent engine to propel the spacecraft stack as a backup mode, and use of the Portable Life Support System backpack outside of the LM cabin.

    Apollo 16 Fifth crewed mission to land on the Moon

    Apollo 16 was the tenth crewed mission in the United States Apollo space program, the fifth and second-to-last to land on the Moon, and the second to land in the lunar highlands. The second of the so-called "J missions," it was crewed by Commander John Young, Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke and Command Module Pilot Ken Mattingly. Launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 12:54 PM EST on April 16, 1972, the mission lasted 11 days, 1 hour, and 51 minutes, and concluded at 2:45 PM EST on April 27.

    Apollo 17 Final crewed space mission to land on the Moon

    Apollo 17 was the final mission of NASA's Apollo program; it remains the most recent time humans have travelled beyond low Earth orbit. Its crew consisted of Commander Eugene Cernan, Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt, and Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and it carried a biological experiment containing five mice.

    Alan Bean American astronaut

    Alan LaVern Bean was an American naval officer and aviator, aeronautical engineer, test pilot, and NASA astronaut; he was the fourth person to walk on the Moon. He was selected to become an astronaut by NASA in 1963 as part of Astronaut Group 3.

    Apollo Lunar Module A lander used in the Apollo program.

    The Apollo Lunar Module, or simply lunar module, originally designated the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), was the lander spacecraft that was flown from lunar orbit to the Moon's surface during the U.S. Apollo program. It was the first crewed spacecraft to operate exclusively in the airless vacuum of space, and remains the only crewed vehicle to land anywhere beyond Earth.

    Apollo (spacecraft) American spacecraft

    The Apollo spacecraft was composed of three parts designed to accomplish the American Apollo program's goal of landing astronauts on the Moon by the end of the 1960s and returning them safely to Earth. The expendable (single-use) spacecraft consisted of a combined command and service module (CSM) and an Apollo Lunar Module (LM). Two additional components complemented the spacecraft stack for space vehicle assembly: a spacecraft–LM adapter (SLA) designed to shield the LM from the aerodynamic stress of launch and to connect the CSM to the Saturn launch vehicle; and a launch escape system (LES) to carry the crew in the command module safely away from the launch vehicle in the event of a launch emergency.

    Jack Lousma American astronaut and politician

    Jack Robert Lousma, , is an American aeronautical engineer, retired United States Marine Corps officer, former naval aviator, NASA astronaut, and politician. He was a member of the second crew on the Skylab space station in 1973. In 1982, he commanded STS-3, the third Space Shuttle mission.

    STS-76 human spaceflight

    STS-76 was NASA's 76th Space Shuttle mission, and the 16th mission for Atlantis. STS-76 launched on 22 March 1996 at 3:13 am EST from Kennedy Space Center launch pad 39B. STS-76 lasted over 9 days, traveled about 3,800,000 miles (6,100,000 km) while orbiting Earth an estimated 145 times, and landing at 5:28 am PST on 31 March 1996 at Edwards Air Force Base runway 22.

    Apollo command and service module spacecraft

    The Apollo command and service module (CSM) was one of two principal components of the United States Apollo spacecraft, used for the Apollo program, which landed astronauts on the Moon between 1969 and 1972. The CSM functioned as a mother ship, which carried a crew of three astronauts and the second Apollo spacecraft, the Apollo Lunar Module, to lunar orbit, and brought the astronauts back to Earth. It consisted of two parts: the conical command module, a cabin that housed the crew and carried equipment needed for atmospheric reentry and splashdown; and the cylindrical service module which provided propulsion, electrical power and storage for various consumables required during a mission. An umbilical connection transferred power and consumables between the two modules. Just before reentry of the command module on the return home, the umbilical connection was severed and the service module was cast off and allowed to burn up in the atmosphere.

    Several planned missions of the Apollo crewed Moon landing program of the 1960s and 1970s were canceled for a variety of reasons, including changes in technical direction, the Apollo 1 fire, hardware delays, and budget limitations. After the landing by Apollo 12, Apollo 20, which would have been the final crewed mission to the Moon, was canceled to allow Skylab to launch as a "dry workshop". The next two missions, Apollos 18 and 19, were later canceled after the Apollo 13 incident and further budget cuts. Two Skylab missions also ended up being canceled. Two complete Saturn Vs ended up going unused and are currently on display in the United States.

    NASA Astronaut Group 5 Wikimedia list article

    NASA's Astronaut Group 5 was a group of nineteen astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. Of the six Lunar Module Pilots that walked on the Moon, three came from Group 5. The group as a whole is roughly split between the half who flew to the Moon, and the half who flew Skylab and Space Shuttle, providing the core of Shuttle commanders early in that program. This group is also distinctive in being the only time when NASA hired a person into the astronaut corps who had already earned astronaut wings, X-15 pilot Joe Engle. John Young labelled the group the "Original Nineteen" in parody of the original Mercury Seven astronauts.

    Skylab B

    Skylab B was a proposed second US space station similar to Skylab that was planned to be launched by NASA for different purposes, mostly involving the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project, but was canceled due to lack of funding. Two Skylab modules were built in 1970 by McDonnell Douglas for the Skylab program, originally the Apollo Applications Program. The first was launched in 1973 and the other put in storage, while NASA considered how to use the remaining assets from Apollo.

    Apollo 20 hoax Hoax about extraterrestrials on the Moon

    The Apollo 20 hoax is a faux story told in a series of YouTube videos about an American crewed lunar mission that discovered evidence of an extraterrestrial civilization on the far side of the Moon.

    Skylab controversy Skylab mutiny

    A work slowdown, characterized by some writers as the Skylab strike, Skylab mutiny or the Skylab controversy, was instigated by the crew of Skylab 4 during some or all of December 28, 1973—the last of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Skylab missions. According to Michael Hiltzik, the three astronauts, Gerald P. Carr, Edward G. Gibson, and William R. Pogue, turned off radio communications with NASA ground control and spent time relaxing and looking at the Earth before resuming communication with NASA, refusing communications from mission control during this period. Once communications resumed, there were discussions between the crew and NASA. The mission continued for several more weeks before the crew returned to Earth in 1974. The 84-day mission was Skylab's last crew, and last time American astronauts set foot in a space station for two decades, until Shuttle–Mir in the 1990s.


    1. McDowell, Jonathan. "SATCAT". Jonathan's Space Pages. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
    2. 1 2 "Skylab Numbering Fiasco". Living in Space. William Pogue Official WebSite. 2007. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. Retrieved February 7, 2009.
    3. Pogue, William. "Naming Spacecraft: Confusion Reigns". collectSPACE. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
    4. Souza, Kenneth; Hogan, Robert; Ballard, Rodney. "Programs, Missions, and Payloads – Skylab 3". Life into Space: Space Life Sciences Experiment. NASA. Archived from the original on March 21, 2009. Retrieved February 9, 2009.
    5. Lattimer, Dick All We Did Was Fly To The Moon pp.107–9 with image ISBN   0961122803
    6. "NASA Glenn Visitor Center". NASA Glenn Visitor Center. Great Lakes Science Center. Archived from the original on August 9, 2012. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
    7. 1 2 Navratil, Liz. "Skylab space capsule lands at Cleveland's Great Lakes Science Center". Retrieved April 15, 2019.