May 1973 - Skylab Launched

The first US orbiting space station, Skylab, was launched and was made up of an empty third stage Saturn 5 rocket. Three crews visited Skylab between 1973 and 1974, each staying out 28, 59 and 84 days respectively. Communication requirements were much different than the Apollo mission - “one day’s coverage is equal to an entire Apollo mission.” Thirteen of the 22 Spaceflight Tracking and Data Network (STDN) stations in the unified S-band (USB) were used to support the overwhelming amount of data coming from Skylab. In addition, only 10 percent of the data from Skylab was sent in real time from the stations to Mission Control in Houston, Texas, while the other 90 percent were stored on computers and sent at a later date. Due to funding, Skylab was left to decay. In July 1979, Skylab reentered Earth’s atmosphere and impacted the Earth. Debris was found from the southeastern India Ocean to a sparsely populated area of Western Australia. Lessons from Skylab were used later for the future International Space Station. 

› Skylab Program
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Page Last Updated: October 3rd, 2014
Page Editor: Thuy Mai