Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story

Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story

Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story

Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story


As the United States and the Soviet Union went from exploring space to living in it, a space station was conceived as the logical successor to the Apollo moon program. But between conception and execution there was the vastness of space itself, to say nothing of monumental technological challenges. Homesteading Space, by two of Skylab's own astronauts and a NASA journalist, tells the dramatic story of America's first space station from beginning to fiery end. Homesteading Space is much more than a story of technological and scientific success; it is also an absorbing, sometimes humorous, often inspiring account of the determined, hardworking individuals who shepherded the program through a near-disastrous launch, a heroic rescue, and an exhausting study of Comet Kohoutek, as well as the lab's ultimate descent into the Indian Ocean. Featuring the unpublished in-flight diary of astronaut Alan Bean, the book is replete with the personal recollections and experiences of the Skylab crew and those who worked with them in training, during the mission, and in bringing them safely home.


If mankind is to travel from Earth to explore our universe, we will have to learn to live without the familiar experience of weight that is almost always with us on our home planet.

In the void between worlds, explorers will experience virtually total weightlessness. It's a strange environment without up or down, new to the body and with hidden threats, as big a step for us as was the classic emergence of life from the oceans onto dry land. They sputtered, we threw up, but apparently it won't take us as long to adapt. The point is that the process of really understanding “weightlessness” and really adapting to it was started by nine men in 1973. This is the story of that adventure.

Skylab was America's frst step toward making space something other than a nice place to visit. Developed in the shadow of the Apollo moon missions and using hardware originally created for Apollo, the Skylab space station took the nation's astronauts from being space explorers to being space residents. The program proved that human beings can successfully live and work in space.

For many members of the public, Skylab is perhaps best known for two things—its beginning and its end. During the May 1973 launch of the Skylab workshop, an unanticipated problem damaged the station on its way to orbit. And of course, Skylab captured the world's attention with its fery re-entry over the Indian Ocean and Australia in 1979.

But between those bookends lies a fantastic story of a pivotal period in spacefight history. Skylab's three crews lived there for a total of six months, setting—and breaking—a series of spacefight duration records. While previous U.S. spacefights were focused on going places, Skylab was about being somewhere, not just passing through the phenomenal space environment, but mastering it. Every thing that was to come afterward in U.S. spacefight was made possible by this foundation—from scientifc research in micro-

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