SP-4011 Skylab: A
- [xv] The Skylab
Program was specifically designed to conduct a series of
experiments from beyond the Earth's atmosphere. Since the number
and types of experiments to be conducted during the operational
phase of Skylab were constantly changing, rather than encumber the
body of the chronology with these changes, a lengthy appendix on
experiments (number 3) has been included. This appendix identifies
the Principal Investigators and Coinvestigators; gives the types,
numbers, and descriptions of the experiments; explains the
purposes of the various experiments; and, where available, gives
the results or findings of the experiments. Because of the time
required to reduce the voluminous amount of data acquired during
the Skylab missions, definitive results on some of the experiments
may not be available for some years.
- This document was intended to capture the
key events that contributed to the success of Skylab and to
provide the sources and documentation essential to a narrative
history of the program. It was not the intent of the authors, nor
should it have been their intent, to interpret the decisionmaking
processes, the policies, the budgetary constraints, the politics,
and the inter-Center rivalries that interwove themselves into the
pattern of the Skylab Program from its inception on the drawing
board to its culmination as America's most successful manned space
program to date. For these interpretations, the interested reader
must await the narrative history of Skylab a history which is now
being written. Meanwhile, it is hoped that the chronology will
serve as a ready reference for those who might be seeking a
comprehensive source of information on the Skylab Program.
- The body of the Skylab chronology has been
divided into three parts: early space station activities, Apollo
Applications, and Skylab development and operations.
- The first part traces the concept of space
stations beginning with Hermann Oberth's study on a manned space
station, which he presented to the scientific community in 1923,
through July 1965 when Grumman completed a study for NASA on Earth
orbital missions. During the years between those dates, the
scientific community had begun to show considerable interest in a
space station that would enable them to study the physical and
psychological effects on man of extended periods in a space
environment; evaluate techniques for scientific experiments from
space; and develop and evaluate techniques for the construction
and successful launch of a space station. A key step in this
direction was the manned space station symposium held in Los
Angeles in 1960. During the symposium, leading aeronautical and
aerospace scientists and engineers presented 40 papers on these
- The second part of the chronology covers
the period from July 1965 to February 1970 and encompasses those
periods of the program designated the
[xvi] Apollo Extension
System and the Apollo Applications Program. It was during this
period that concepts (based in part on experience gained in the
Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo Programs) were refined, contracts were
issued, and the gradual evolution of the Orbital Workshop to its
final "dry" concept occurred.
- In February 1970, what had previously been
called the Apollo Applications Program was redesignated the Skylab
Program. Part three of the chronology covers the period from this
redesignation through the final mission of the program and the
postoperational phase. This, essentially, was the construction and
operational phase of the program. It was the period of final
equipment and experiment checkout, launch and flight, recovery and
- In writing this chronology, certain NASA
Centers which appear frequently are referred to by acronyms. These
are: MSFC (the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center), KSC (the
John F. Kennedy Space Center), MSC (the Manned Spacecraft Center)
which later became JSC (the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center), and
LaRC (Langley Research Center). The National Aeronautics and Space
Administration is generally referred to as NASA, or when the
context of the entry requires, NASA Hq. The Centers which appear
with less frequency in this chronology, such as the Goddard Space
Flight Center, the Ames Research Center, the Lewis Research Center
and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, are spelled out.
- Similarly, a short form is used for a
number of the aerospace contractors. The Martin Marietta
Corporation is referred to as simply Martin Marietta, the Grumman
Aerospace Corporation as Grumman, the McDonnell Douglas
Corporation as either McDonnell Douglas, Huntington Beach,
California, or McDonnell Douglas, St. Louis (to distinguish
between the eastern and western facilities), and North American
Aviation, Incorporated (later North American Rockwell and still
later Rockwell International), is referred to as North American.
Other aerospace contractors, appearing less frequently in the
chronology, are given their full titles. Examples are The Boeing
Company, the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, and the Bendix
- Material used in preparing this chronology
has basically been primary source materials-official
correspondence, memoranda, NASA and contractor reports, minutes of
meetings, and minutes of reviews, etc. Secondary source
materials-NASA and contractor news releases and references to
newspaper and magazine articles-were used minimally.
- This chronology could not have been
written without the assistance of a great number of individuals
within the aerospace e community. To list them all would be
impossible. However, the authors wish to acknowledge by name the
assistance received from Monte D. Wright, John H. Disher, Frank W.
Anderson, Jr., J. Pemble Field, Thomas Hanes, Edward Christianson,
and Lee D. Saegesser of NASA Headquarters; Leland F. Belew, Hilmar
Haenisch, Charles L. Wood, Ralph Murphy, James Bishop, Lois
Robertson, and Robert G. Sheppard of MSFC; James Perris, Konstanty
Kebalka, James W. Craig, Jr., and Jimmy D. Broadwell of KSC;
Robert F. Thompson, Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, Walter D. Wolhart,
Edward A. Armstrong, Reginald M. Machell, Joe W. Dodson, Robert
Gordon, Roy L. Magin, Jr., Harold J. Davis, James M.
[xvii] Grimwood, and
Sally D. Gates of JSC; Edward Regan, Walter Cleveland, Dan Green,
and Frank Morgan of McDonnell Douglas; and Richard Barton and
Ralph Oakley of Rockwell International.
- Special kudos go to Melba Henderson and
Virginia A. Trotter of JSC for their outstanding assistance and
cooperation in making available the files and records from which a
large portion of this chronology has been derived; to Willard M.
Taub, whose assistance was invaluable in location and
identification of some of the illustrations; and to Hilda J.
Grimwood, who performed such an outstanding job in the typing and
proofing of this manuscript in addition to carrying out the other
innumerable duties essential to good office operations.
- This chronology was prepared by the
Historical Services and Consultants Company, Houston, Texas, under
- R. W. N.
- I. D. E.
- C. G. B.