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A Permanent Presence in Space

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 Skylab was equipped with instruments and experiments to:

  • Observe the Earth to study natural resources and the environment
  • Observe the Sun to study high-energy solar activity
  • Study the effects of weightlessness on the human body and assess crew adaptation to long-duration spaceflight
  • Study materials processing in microgravity
  • Perform experiments submitted by students for a "Classroom in Space"   
 Skylab x-ray image of the Sun.
Skylab x-ray image of sun
68 k jpeg
NASA#: 79-HC-509


Because Skylab was a research laboratory, the composition of the crew differed from that of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. Except for one scientist on the last Apollo mission, all previous crew members had been pilots. The Skylab crews included scientists and pilots. The scientist-astronauts were recruited as a group in 1965. All Skylab crew members were trained to conduct scientific experiments, but the science pilot held overall responsibility for onboard research.


(L to R) Astronauts

Joseph P. Kerwin, science pilot;

Charles Conrad Jr., commander;

Paul J. Weitz, pilot.

Launch: May 25, 1973

Mission duration: 28 days

Landing: June 22, 1973

1st Skylab crew
195 k jpeg
NASA#: 73-HC-295


(L to R) Astronauts

Owen K. Garriott, science pilot;

Jack R. Lousma, pilot;

Alan L. Bean, commander.

Launch: July 28, 1973

Mission duration: 59 days

Landing: September 25, 1973

2nd Skylab crew
188 k jpeg
NASA#: 73-HC-592


(L to R) Astronauts

William R. Pogue, pilot;

Edward G. Gibson, science pilot;

Gerald P. Carr, commander.

Launch: November 16, 1973

Mission duration: 84 days

Landing: February 8, 1974

3rd Skylab crew
192 k jpeg
NASA#: 73-HC-705
This crew held the U.S. record for length of time in space until 1995, when astronaut Norman E. Thagard spent 115 days on a mission aboard the Russian space station Mir and the U.S. Space Shuttle. In 1996 astronaut Shannon W. Lucid set a new U.S. record of 188 days aboard the Shuttle and Mir.

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