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Skylab, 11 July, 1979, Western Australia, fine, $400, NASA, USA, mission, sun, solar

All about Skylab

Skylab, 11 July, 1979, Western Australia, fine, $400, NASA, USA, mission, sun, solar

skylabSkylab: The vital statistics

Launched: 14 May 1973

Weight: 77,000 kg

Height: 36 metres

Diameter: 6.7 metres

Primary objective: See how weightlessness affects astronauts

Secondary objective: Looking at activity of the sun

Skylab: The problems

The Skylab project beset by problems from launch. As it took off, a sunshield broke off, as did a major solar panel. The sunshield was also responsible for blocking another of the solar panels, severely restricting the amount of power the space laboratory could receive from solar power. In order to get as much as possible, the craft had to be rotated, raising temperatures inside the craft to 52 degrees Celcius.

This prompted Skylab 2’s launch to be postponed while the crew were taught how to repair the craft and deal with the change in temperature.

It began its re-entry much sooner than expected, meaning NASA had no time to send up a rescue spacecraft. It powered through the Earth’s atmosphere and huge chunks landed both in the sea and on land. Western Australia tried to fine NASA $400 for littering and the fine was eventually paid in 2009.

399397main_skylab1_liftoffSkylab: The successes

Nearly 750 hours of solar observation was carried out by the Skylab crews, allowing scientists to learn much more about our star.

Skylab made 34,981 orbits of the Sun, taking 175,000 pictures of it as well as 46,000 of the Earth.