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A Permanent Presence in Space

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While the one- to two-week Gemini and Apollo missions were like camping trips, a Skylab mission was more like living in a house. Because astronaut crews stayed for one, two, or three months, the orbital workshop was designed for "habitability."

Skylab was reasonably comfortable and spacious, with more amenities than previous spacecraft. Among the features especially appreciated by the crews were the large window for viewing Earth, the galley and wardroom with a table for group meals, the private sleeping quarters, and a shower custom-designed for use in weightlessness.

Skylab crew reading Skylab crew in wardroom Skylab crew, exercising Skylab crew,  working
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NASA#: 73-HC-745
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NASA#: 73-HC-524
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NASA#: 76-HC-10
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NASA#: 73-HC-788


This is the backup Skylab orbital workshop, the largest component of America's first space station. It was not used in space because the Skylab program was canceled after one space station as effort shifted to Space Shuttle development.

Skylab crews lived and did most of their scientific research in the workshop. The outer surface includes a gold coating to reflect the Sun's heat and help control interior temperature. Under the workshop are 23 spherical containers for gaseous nitrogen used in the thrust attitude control system and pneumatics. A radiator for the life-support systems, refrigerators, and freezers is mounted below the spheres.

Transferred from NASA and McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Company

View of Skylab in gallery
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SI#: 97-16245
OWS Line Art
Length: 15 m (48 ft)
Diameter: 6.5 m (22 ft)
Weight: 35,400 kg (78,000 lb)
Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co.
Launch vehicle: Saturn V

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