SP-4011 Skylab: A Chronology
[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 subjects.
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 evaluation.
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 Corporation.
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 contract NASW-2590.
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