Skylab marks a transition in the American space flight program. It represents a step from small to large satellites, from short manned flights to longtime manned orbiters, from the astronauts' role as observers in space to the role of workers in space, from single-purpose spacecraft to multipurpose space stations, from a time of space exploration to a time of space utilization. It stands at the beginning of an era in which near-Earth space with its weightlessness and its superior viewing conditions is offering a work place for man that would never be available under the restricted conditions on the ground. It will provide the basis for technological developments and for scientific research which may become decisive in man's struggle with the growing problems of his evolving civilization.
The operational life of Skylab will extend over a period of eight months. Analysis and evaluation of the numerous measurements taken on Skylab will cover a far longer period. Results of Skylab experiments, besides enriching our knowledge in technology and science, will undoubtedly influence many other space projects to be developed by the United States and abroad during forthcoming years. A new generation of manned orbiting flights, again expanding our capabilities in space and the utility of space flight for man on Earth, will begin with the Space Shuttle Program around the end of the 1970's. The Shuttle Program, too, will profit decisively from Skylab, our first station in space.