The Skylab Space Station
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    Skylab was the first U.S. space station. It  was launched into orbit on May 14, 1973 as part of the Apollo program. This 91 metric ton structure was 36 meters (four stories) high, 6.7 meters in diameter and flew at an altitude of 435 km (270 miles).
    Three different Apollo crews manned Skylab during its 9 month mission: Charles Conrad, Joseph Kerwin, and Paul Weitz from May 25 to June 21, 1973; Alan Bean, Owen Garriott, and Jack Lousma from July 28 to September 24, 1973; and Gerald Carr, Edward Gibson, and William Pogue from November 16, 1973 to February 8, 1974.
    When Skylab was launched it lost a solar panel and part of its external shielding. Skylab astronauts had to rig a "golden umbrella" to keep their habitat comfortable. Skylab re-entered the Earth's atmosphere in 1979 over Australia. This re-entry was a year or two earlier than expected.

     Skylab included eight separate solar experiments on its Apollo Telescope Mount: two X-ray telescopes (S-054 sponsored by American Science and Engineering and S-056 sponsored by Marshall Space Flight Center); an X-ray and extreme ultraviolet camera (S-020 sponsored by the Naval Research Laboratory); an ultraviolet spectroheliometer (S-055 sponsored by Harvard College Observatory); an extreme ultraviolet spectroheliograph  and an ultraviolet spectroheliograph (S-082A and S-082B   sponsored by the Naval Research Laboratory); a white light coronagraph (S-052 sponsored by the High Altitude Observatory); and two hydrogen-alpha telescopes (H-alpha no. 1 sponsored by Harvard College Observatory and H-alpha no. 2 sponsored by Marshall Space Flight Center).

Skylab was designed to allow astronauts to live and work in space for several weeks. It was to be a laboratory for astronauts and a base for spacecraft. The three Skylab crews spent a combined 171 days, 13 hours, and 14 minutes orbiting the Earth. They circled the Earth 2,476 times and spent over 3,000 hours conducting eight categories of experiments. They also studied the effect living in space had on the human body. Spacewalk time totaled 41 hours and 46 minutes. In addition to the thousands of frames of Earth and solar observation film that resulted from the three Skylab missions, the third mission also yielded extensive observation and photos of Comet Kohoutek..


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