Learn about the Skylab space mission and the discoveries the crew made during this mission.
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Learn About the Skylab II Mission Early one morning late in July of 1973, a month after the return of the first Skylab crew, Skylab’s second man mission was launched with astronauts Bean, Lousma and Garriott aboard. During the 8-hour chase of the satellite, one of the four thrusters used for maneuvering their command modules sprung a leak. And it’s the thrusters that guide the craft in space as well as align it for safe reentry into the atmosphere. Even so, Bean still managed to drop perfectly. But 6 days later, another thruster began leaking and NASA had to perform a rescue in space. Round the clock preparations were immediately begun to activate the Skylab rescue vehicle. A rocket assembled and an Apollo craft modified. The Saturn 1B rocket was rolled out to the pad ready for launch. In space, the command module could still be guided with half its thrusters so the astronauts continued with their experiments. The most important package of scientific instruments on the Skylab was the 12-ton telescope mount with its 8 solar telescopes for a detailed study of the sun. The value of men in space is true scientific partners in space science research was most evident in this solar studies program. For the first time, photographic film was used resulting in spectacular photographs being returned to earth. Pictures such as this can only be made from above the earth’s atmosphere with a special instrument, a spectroheliograph. Notice the comparison of the size of earth with the large eruption of the sun’s atmosphere. Other wave lengths were used to help polar changes in the sun. Apparent when this photograph was analyzed. Such x-ray photos committed further coronal study, unveiling phases of the sun never before seen by earth bound observers giving radically new knowledge of the sun and the ways it may affect the earth. Solar studies in Estella astronomy with features of all three Skylab missions and this solar flare was the most spectacular ever recorded, radiating more energy than have been used by men since the beginning of civilization. Using the Skylab’s upper doom area to explore this kind of flying, the astronaut uses a maneuvering unit that could shuttle him between spaceship and satellite. As we know, this technology proved invaluable in space flights decades later. This was an experiment to find out the structure of a web, a spider would spin in a weightless state. The creature soon adapted to space and spun a web quite easily. There was a problem however when they run out of food for the spiders. So the astronauts simply have to share their own with them. The Skylab 2 cruise spends almost 14 hours in space course augmenting the parasol with a new twin full sun shade changing film for the solar telescope and retrieving canisters containing over 77,000 pictures of the sun. After 2 months and some 40 million kilometers, the scientific journey of Skylab 2 ended, bringing back pictures and scientific data around the sun that have been kept secret for millions of years by the dense blanket of earth’s atmosphere. Coming up later in the program, we observe the wonders of space from space. Documenting the splendor of earth for the betterment of science, the astronauts of the third Skylab mission recorded phenomena both near and far.