Skylab 4

Skylab 4 (SL -4) was the third and final crew of the U.S. space station Skylab. They set new records in the world space and marked the end point for U.S. space stations.

The team

Together with the crews of Skylab 2 and Skylab 3 and Skylab 4 of the team was announced on 19 January 1972 by NASA. It was surprising that the command was given to astronauts without space experience. That was the last time in 1966 happened to Neil Armstrong.

The command of Skylab 4 Gerald Carr should take over. As a pilot, William Pogue was divided and science astronaut Edward Gibson completed the trio.

As with Skylab 3 was the replacement team from the commander Vance Brand, pilot Don Lind and the scientist William Lenoir. The support crew was for all three Skylabmissionen Robert Crippen, Richard Truly, Henry Hartsfield and William Thornton.

The mission was officially taking the name of Skylab 4 (SL -4 ), but was often 3 (SLM -3) also referred to as Skylab, because it was the third crew ( manned mission ) of the space station.

The preparation

The individual parts of the Saturn 1B rocket AS -208 were delivered between November 1971 and June 1973 at the Kennedy Space Center. On 6 August 1973, the Apollo spacecraft CSM -118 was mounted on 14 August, the rocket to the launch pad 39B could be transported.

The launch was scheduled first for 11 November 1973 but five days before this date cracks in all eight stabilizing fins of the rocket were found. The fins had to be replaced, so that the launch has been postponed. The extension of the flight over the initially planned 58 days and required to stow numerous pieces of equipment, food, and movies in the capsule.

History of the flight

Skylab 4 took off on 16 November 1973 by Cape Canaveral. After about eight hours to dock the Apollo spacecraft on Skylab succeeded.

Following the experience of the space sickness the second team, the flight management had decided that the astronauts should still spend the first night on board of Apollo, because apparently the weightlessness in large, open spaces promotes Raumkrankeit.

That evening Pogue had vomit while Skylab was still outside the radio range of the ground stations. The astronauts were afraid that the doctors this incident would attach too much value on what the mission would be delayed or even canceled. Therefore, Carr reported only by Pogues discomfort, but did not mention that Pogue had vomit. The astronauts had but forgetting that the conversations in the cockpit were automatically recorded and time- delayed transferred to ground stations. In this way the flight line learned the next day the true facts of what Carr earned a rebuke.

The outstanding performance of the second team had set new standards, so the flight line, the work program of the mission packed pretty tight. Some new experiments were added, and the newly discovered comet Kohoutek offered spectacular viewing opportunities. The crew also struggled with technical difficulties, particularly vulnerable to the partial failure of the position control, the continuation of the mission. The problem could be solved by improvements in operating conditions.

There was not a good relationship between the astronauts and Mission Control on Earth. A densely packed daily routine left the astronaut little free time. It turned out that the timing of various tasks were too optimistically. In some cases, the astronauts had to build experiments that they had never seen before. The team felt overwhelmed. For a clarifying conversation however, there were relatively late, on the 45th day of the mission. The sometimes -heard presentation, the team have taken time off without permission, a day later, however, Carr disagreed and pointed out that they had rather voluntarily waived several days off to catch up temporal residue.

The team completed four spacewalks by a total of over 22 hours of continuous, on each of which two astronauts were involved. Work on the Space Station on December 25, sat seven hours and one minute, a new record.

An important part of the scientific work was the observation of the Komets Kohoutek, who had only recently been discovered. Among others was the first time spectroscopically detected in the nucleus of water.

On February 8, 1974 Carr, Pogue and Gibson were up in the Apollo spacecraft. While they were still docked, they set fire to the RCS thrusters twice for a total of three minutes to bring Skylab into a higher orbit. According to the calculations of NASA, this should provide for nine more years in orbit. Some foods, as well as clothing and equipment remained on board. Should you from falling again enter the space station ( the first launch of the Space Shuttle was planned later for five years), you could examine the effects of long term storage.

Shortly after firing of retro rockets for re-entry Carr noticed that the control engines did not respond, so he had to resort to a replacement system. Later it turned out that some switch had been operated incorrectly before. This incident showed that it was not quite safe twelve weeks remain on board a space station without getting out and exercise to control the spaceship.

Whereabouts of the flight hardware

The CM of Skylab 4 is exhibited in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.

Importance for the Skylab project

From a scientific perspective, the third Skylab mission was also a great success. The astronauts brought back many valuable scientific data to Earth, including images of a comet that can not be photographed from Earth in this way. Moreover, it was photographed in their initial phase with the solar observatory for the first time a protuberance.

Skylab 4 had broken the long-term record of Skylab 3. With 84 days Carr, Pogue and Gibson held the record for the longest space flight, but also the record for the entire flight duration of a space traveler. In 1978 Georgi Grechko and Yuri Romanenko should remain on board the Salyut 6 is longer in space.

However, the long-term missions of Skylab also helped that the public wore the fascination of manned spaceflight. For the first time the splashdown of Apollo flight was not transmitted live on television.

Skylab was to remain the only American space station. A repetition of this project was not provided, and NASA is now focused on the development of the reusable Space Shuttle, which was to replace the loss of missiles in the late 1970s. Before the Apollo - Soyuz Test Project was provided in which an American Apollo space ship should dock with a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft. Thus, the Apollo - era would be terminated.

Mental health problems in long-term missions

When, after completion of the project work performed by the three teams were compared in their third and fourth weeks, no significant difference was found. The third team had achieved more than was planned.

Serious differences there were among the leaders of the three teams. The necessary repairs during the first crew produced some pioneering sensation, while the second team fully focused on the work and took little time. The third team has had the most tension and unspoken problems impacted the project. None of the astronauts of the third team was nominated a second time for a space flight.

Three reasons contributed to this conflict. First, the large workload is to be called. The third Skylab crew had indeed no longer working day than the previous two teams, but had to provide not only one or two, but for three months this achievement. Second, was the second day of the trust between team flight line and loaded, as the astronauts had not reported the space sickness of Pogue. Thirdly, there was on board again inevitable technical shortcomings, over which the team increasingly annoyed over time. The resulting discontent then erupted in the conversations with the flight line.

Overall, based on a parallel with the flight of Apollo 7 draw. The astronauts Schirra, Eisele and Cunningham were also exposed to a high workload during the first flight of the Apollo spacecraft in October 1968. In addition, the astronauts were irritated by a cold and feared permanent injury during re-entry. In contrast to the Skylab crew, the differing views, however, were immediately brought over the radio for language.

Skylab was the only American space station, but the experience also for missions aboard the Soviet Mir and the International Space Station could be applied. It was found that for the astronauts a balance between work and leisure must be provided, which depends on mission profile and duration. Furthermore, the astronauts, but also experienced ex- astronauts must be closely involved in the mission planning. Also a good personal relationship with staff in the fly line is important. Of course, the mission planning must also provide sufficient alternatives to respond flexibly when certain work is performed faster or slower than planned.

For future space travel, such as a manned flight to Mars may not only be work overload to a problem, but also boredom during flight phases in which there is little to do for the team.

Finally, the composition of the team plays a major role. Fortunately understood for all three Skylab astronauts teams with each other very well, so there were no major tensions on board.