A Brief History
On July 11, 1979, America’s first space station, Skylab, reentered Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated over the Indian Ocean and Australia.
Launched in 1973, to great public excitement, Skylab is the only space station to be operated only by the US. Children were invited by NASA to submit ideas for experiments to be conducted on Skylab, and the author of this article submitted an experiment with welding in space. The experiment was not accepted, but a participation letter was issued.
Skylab was only occupied for 171 of the over 2200 days it spent in orbit, its lifespan limited by the inability of NASA to re-boost the station to maintain orbit. The Space Shuttle program was planned to re-boost Skylab, but that program came too late.
In anticipation of the potential fallout of pieces of 80 tons of space station re-entering the atmosphere, comical hats and shirts were sold about “surviving Skylab,” although no injuries or damaged actually occurred.
Question for students (and subscribers): Would you like to go aboard a space station? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Baker, David. NASA Skylab Owners’ Workshop Manual: 1969 to 1979. Haynes Publishing, 2018.
Belew, Leland F. Skylab, Our first Space Station. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1977.
The featured image in this article, a Skylab commemorative stamp, issue of 1974, is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.
You can also watch video versions of this article on YouTube.