Skylab 3

Skylab 3 (SL -3) was the second crew of the U.S. space station Skylab.

The team

Together with the crews of Skylab 2 and Skylab 4 was launched by NASA on January 19, 1972, the crew of Skylab 3 of the public.

As Commander Alan Bean was selected, who had entered in 1969 with Apollo 12, the fourth man on the moon. Pilot was Jack Lousma and as a science astronaut Owen Garriott electrical engineer was nominated. Lousma and Garriott had no experience in space.

The backup crew consisted of Commander Vance Brand, pilot Don Lind and the scientist William Lenoir.

As with Skylab 2 was the support crew from Robert Crippen, Richard Truly, Henry Hartsfield and William Thornton.

Even while preparing for Skylab 3 commander Alan Bean was nominated for the replacement commander of the Apollo -Soyuz project, which was planned for July 1975.

The mission was officially taking the name Skylab 3 (SL -3 ), but was often referred to as Skylab 2 (SLM -2 ) because it was the second crew ( manned mission ) of the space station.

The preparation

The space station was launched with the mission designation Skylab 1 on 14 May 1973. During the launch, however, a heat shield and a solar module were destroyed. For this reason, the first crew did not start until ten days late, while the launch of Skylab 3 was brought forward by three weeks in order not to leave the station too long unmanned.

Parts of the Saturn 1B rocket AS -207 had been delivered in the summer of 1971, the spacecraft CSM -117, however, was only fitted on 8 June 1973 for the rocket. On June 17, the rocket on the launch pad has been hit several times by lightning. After testing some equipment had to be replaced then.

Similar to the previous mission, the astronauts of Skylab had to perform three tasks to repair the station. The destroyed at the start of Skylab heat shield was indeed replaced by the Skylab 2 astronauts through a heat protector, which should prevent the direct sunlight, but this was only intended as a temporary. The astronauts of Skylab 3 should now install a better sun protection. To practice the work in zero gravity, the operations were rehearsed again and again under water.

History of the flight

Skylab 3 took off on July 28, 1973, reached a few minutes later orbit. About eight hours later, they arrived at the space station, which had remained about a month unmanned.

In the first few days all three astronauts suffered from space sickness. This was surprising, because none of the three had been found in studies to be susceptible. While in previous Apollo flights astronauts individual had been attacked by space sickness again, but never a complete team. At times, Skylab 3 was a full day behind schedule, but as soon as her health had improved, the astronauts brought quickly to the residue again.

On August 2, there is a problem with the control jets (RCS quads ) of the Apollo spacecraft apparent. Already on launch day one of the four nozzles quartets had failed, and now licked a second. Although it was possible to return with only two functioning quads to Earth, but was not sure whether the two failures were related, and the two remaining jets would be affected. For safety's sake began in Cape Canaveral with the preparations for a rescue flight. To this end, plans had been drawn up with the label Skylab Rescue several years ago.

It was planned that the replacements Vance Brand and Don Lind with the would be provided for Skylab 4 launch spacecraft. However, one would have modified it, that instead of the usual three even had five crew members place. Brand and Lind had docked at the second coupling adapter so that Bean, Garriott Lousma and could climb. Depending on the time of the emergency, the lead time was 10, this rescue flight to 45 days. In this case, an Apollo spaceship would have to start no earlier than September 9.

If you had not planned this way, the mission would have been aborted immediately for safety reasons. But in this way was not under time pressure and was able to analyze the problem in peace. It turned out that the failures of the Apollo control jets were not related to each other, so that the course of Skylab 3 was not compromised.

On August 6, Owen Garriott and Jack Lousma took a spacewalk. Their task was to install the sunscreen to change films of the solar camera and take care of three experiments. They were six hours and 31 minutes outside the station. More spacewalks took place ( Garriott and Bean) on 24 August ( Garriott and Lousma ) and on 22 September.

Although the team initially lagged behind schedule, but then brought rapidly to and worked an unexpectedly high workload. At the end of the mission should turn out that the Employee service corresponded to 150% of expectation. This, however, they also laid a high bar for the third team.

In early September Bean even asked to stay to be extended by a week, but not the control center agreed. On the one hand, the physicians wanted more detailed studies before agreeing an extension, on the other hand also went the food and film stocks are running low.

On September 25, Bean, Garriott Lousma and boarded the Apollo landing capsule again and returned to Earth. Like their predecessors, they remained after the splashdown in the landing capsule until it was hoisted aboard the amphibious assault ship USS New Orleans.

Whereabouts of the flight hardware

The CM of Skylab 3 is issued as a loan from the Smithsonian Institute in the visitor center of NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio since 22 June 2010.

Importance for the Skylab project

With the 59 days in space, the three astronauts of Skylab 3 had again set a new time record. Bean had with his flight of Apollo 12 set the record for the longest stay at several space flights.

Scientifically, the mission was a complete success. Bean, Garriott Lousma and had achieved more than had been hoped. Had proved to be very useful even if it was not used, the possibility of a rescue flight. Finally, the space sickness was a point that needed to be examined more closely, because that still did not understand for the disease.