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.
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.
Learn more about the Skylab astronauts, development of the Skylab space station, details about each of the missions, and much more.
This 1977 publication gives a chronological summary of the events preceding and during the Skylab missions.
Living and Working in Space: A History of Skylab
The history of Skylab is examined with emphasis on the program's development from previous Apollo missions, modifications to spacecraft, onboard experiments, and flight crew training. A listing of the missions and an evaluation of results are included.
The Johnson Space Center History Portal includes press kits, oral histories, and additional Skylab resources.