SP-400 Skylab, Our First Space Station

 

PREFACE

 

 

[viii] In this introductory volume to a series of reports on the Skylab program, it gives me great pleasure to acknowledge not only the many achievements but also the extraordinary efforts of the teams of people who made the achievements possible. As Director of the program during its 8 years of planning, preparation, and completion, it was my privilege to work with as fine and dedicated a group of people in the research centers and in industry as it would be possible to assemble for any endeavor. The spirit of which I speak extended throughout the entire program but reached its culmination in the enthusiastic and imaginative solutions to the many mechanical problems which-without quick and workable solutions-would have resulted in mission failure.

The ability of the ground and flight crews to react rapidly to repair or work around crippling problems was one of the bonuses of our first space station. The crews demonstrated that, in space as well as on Earth, man with his intelligence and perseverance can do the near impossible. And if there was ever a case to argue the need for man in space, Skylab provides that example.

Those who labored in the program were dedicated to the thought that space was there to be used as well as to be explored, and they developed a set of tasks to prove their hypotheses by demonstration. That they were right has now been proved conclusively, for the results of Skylab have far exceeded expectations.

It may even yet be too early to catalog all the achievements of the Skylab mission and its people, but one point is clear: a multidisciplinary manned space station is not only practical, but can be highly productive. There are many facets to this conclusion, but three stand out. First, the men worked well in space, actively enjoying the experience of living in orbital weightlessness; second, it was possible to maintain essentially normal operations of this immensely complex vehicle, even in the face of a number of equipment malfunctions: third and most important, the crews produced a large volume of very high quality data in many fields, more than fulfilling the hopes on which the experiment program was based.

It is impossible to single out any one area as the most important result of the Skylab missions. Skylab has served almost every scientific and technological discipline that could benefit from its special characteristics: the broad view of Earth, the freedom from atmospheric interference with observations of the Sun and stars, the absence of gravitational effects, and the presence of trained men to make scientific observations and to operate the complex equipment. Additionally, Skylab established a broad base of factual data on which to base the design of future space systems and the planning of future operation in space. Even more important, it has demonstrated that man has significant work to do in space.

 

November 5, 1976

WILLIAM C. SCHNEIDER

Office of Space Flight
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

 

2 pictures in 1; the top one shows an astronaut's teeth being examined by another astronaut; the bottom one showing a spider.

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picture of 2 astronauts doing science experiments/physical activities.

astronaut doing EVA.

[ix]....observed the effects of a gravity-free environment on life processes...

[x-xi]....and most important, provided a wealth of data on the capability of man to live and do useful work for long periods in space.