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Skylab 4 Pilot William Pogue Dies
March 4, 2014

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William Pogue, pilot on NASA's Skylab 4 mission in 1973-74, has died. He was 84 years old.

Skylab 4 was the third and final manned visit to the Skylab orbital workshop, launched Nov. 16, 1973, and concluded Feb. 8, 1974. At 84 days, 1 hour and 15 minutes, Skylab 4 was the longest manned space flight to that date. [image-51][image-80][image-96]

Pogue was accompanied on the record setting 34.5-million-mile flight by Commander Gerald P. Carr and science-pilot Dr. Edward G. Gibson. They conducted dozens of experiments and science demonstrations during their 1,214 orbits of Earth, including extensive observations of the home planet as well as the sun's solar processes. Pogue logged 13 hours and 31 minutes in two spacewalks outside the orbital workshop.

Pogue described the excitement of launch in a 2000 interview as part of Johnson Space Center's Oral History project.

"I didn’t think we were going to launch. You know, we’d had so many problems. I was sitting there, and finally when we were at thirty seconds, I thought, well, maybe. It's a lot of noise."

Pogue said he thought he was "pretty cool" on liftoff, but a NASA doctor later told him his pulse jumped from 50 to 120. "It was pretty exciting," he said. 

Pogue was born Jan. 23, 1930, in Okemah, Okla. After graduating from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1951, Pogue enlisted in the Air Force, where he went on to fly combat missions in Korea. From 1955 to 1957, he was a member of the USAF Thunderbirds, the Air Force's elite flying team.  Pogue eventually logged over 7,200 hours flying time in more than 50 types of aircraft, including more than 2,000 hours logged in space flight.

Pogue earned a Master of Science degree in Mathematics from Oklahoma State University in 1960 and served in the mathematics department as an assistant professor at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, from 1960 to 1963. In 1965, after a two-year tour as test pilot with the British Ministry of Aviation, Pogue became an instructor at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Pogue was one of 19 Astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. He served as a member of the astronaut support crews for the Apollo 7, 11, and 14 missions before being assigned to his Skylab flight.

Pogue was awarded NASA's Distinguished Service Medal in 1974, and won many other awards in his career, including the Air Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Robert J. Collier Trophy (1974) and Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy (1975).

He retired from the Air Force in 1975, and he left NASA in 1977.  Pogue later worked as an independent technical contractor for several aerospace and energy firms. From 1984 to 1998 he provided contract technical support to the Boeing Company for the Space Station Freedom program which later  evolved into the International Space Station project.

In October 1997, he was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame at Titusville, FL.

Pogue relaxes on the running board of the transfer van during a visit to the Skylab 4/Saturn 1B space vehicle at Pad B, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
Image Credit: 
NASA
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Skylab 4 launch
Skylab 4 lifts off on a Saturn 1B rocket from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on Nov. 16, 1973.
Image Credit: 
NASA
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Skylab in orbit
The Skylab 4 crew snapped this view of the space station on Feb. 8, 1974, during their final fly-around before returning home.
Image Credit: 
NASA
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Skylab TV broadcast
The Skylab 4 crew confers via television from orbit wit Dr. Lubos Kohoutek, discoverer of the Comet Kohoutek. Left to Right, Gerald P. Carr, commander; Edward G. Gibson, science pilot; and William R. Pogue, pilot.
Image Credit: 
NASA
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Page Last Updated: March 4th, 2014
Page Editor: Brian Dunbar