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The Skylab space station is seen in orbit over the Earth by the Skylab 4 crew.


In 1973 and 1974, NASA pushed the boundaries of long-duration human space missions with Skylab, America’s first space station. With three crews performing hundreds of science experiments and unprecedented observations of the Earth and the Sun, Skylab laid the foundations for the space science program on the International Space Station and for future missions to the Moon and Mars.



Crewed Missions


Days Occupied by Astronauts

Skylab Astronauts

Official astronaut portrait for Joseph P. Kerwin

Skylab 2 Science Pilot

Official astronaut portrait for Paul J. Weitz

Skylab 2 Pilot

Portrait of astronaut Alan Bean

Skylab 3 Commander

Portrait of Astronaut Owen K. Garriott

Skylab 3 Science Pilot

Portrait of astronaut Gerald P. Carr

Skylab 4 Commander

Portrait of Astronaut Edward Gibson holding a model of the Skylab space station

Skylab 4 Science Pilot

Skylab’s Goals

America’s first experimental space station, Skylab, was designed for long durations. Its objectives were twofold: To prove that humans could live and work in space for extended periods, and to expand our knowledge of solar astronomy well beyond Earth-based observations. The program was successful in all respects despite early mechanical difficulties.

Skylab made extensive use of Saturn and Apollo equipment. Through the use of a “dry” third stage of the Saturn V rocket, the station was completely outfitted as a workshop area before launch. Crews visited Skylab and returned to Earth in Apollo spacecraft.

Three, three-man crews occupied the Skylab workshop for a total of 171 days and 13 hours. It was the site of nearly 300 scientific and technical experiments, including medical experiments on humans’ adaptability to zero gravity, solar observations and detailed Earth resources experiments.

Skylab Articles

Learn more about the Skylab astronauts, development of the Skylab space station, details about each of the missions, and much more.

50 Years Ago: Skylab 4 Astronauts Return From Record-Breaking Spaceflight
13 min read

The longest spaceflight up to that time ended on Feb. 8, 1974, when Skylab 4 astronauts Gerald P. Carr, Edward…

50 Years Ago: Skylab 4 Astronauts Push Past the One-Month Mark
8 min read

In December 1973, Skylab 4 astronauts Gerald P. Carr, Edward G. Gibson, and William R. Pogue passed the one-month mark…

50 Years Ago: Launch of Skylab 4, The Final Mission to Skylab
12 min read

The third and final crewed mission to the Skylab space station, Skylab 4, got underway on Nov. 16, 1973, with…

50 Years Ago: Skylab 3 Astronauts Splash Down after Record 59 Days in Space
9 min read

On Sept. 25, 1973, the longest human spaceflight up to that time ended with the splashdown of the Skylab 3…

How the Skylab 3 Command Module Found Its Home in Cleveland
4 min read

On Sept. 25, 1973, Tim Hogan and his colleagues from the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team leapt from a hovering helicopter…

50 Years Ago: Second Skylab Crew Midway Through Their Record-Setting Mission
7 min read

On Aug. 25, 1973, about halfway through their planned 59-day mission, the Skylab 3 crew of Commander Alan L. Bean,…

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