Monday, December 26, 2016

Postcards from Skylab - Christmas in Space 1973

Stockings hung for Christmas 1973 - Skylab SL-4
Christmas Tree made from leftover food cans. SL-4

Apollo 18, 19 and 20 projects were turned into Skylab missions. Four launches completed the orbital insertion of Skylab and three sets of three astronaut crews. Skylab fulfilled a number of interesting experiments, living true to its namesake.

Damaged in liftoff, Skylab lost a heat shield and solar panel.

The first crew were able to free the remaining panel, and erect a parasol for shade.

The first parasol. SL-2

The second crew had two fuel leaks leading to preparing a rescue mission, but enough maneuvering remained so they were OK.

A more durable shield was deployed by the second crew. SL-3

The third mission went flawlessly.

Two spiders were quickly able to adapt and spin webs.

Some small minnows never got the hang of weightlessness, but their offspring born in space did fine.

This was the largest solar flare ever witnessed. More energy was released than ever used by man.
The solar imaging was extensive, including a special lens that created a perpetual eclipse.

Weekly showers!

Lots of medical tests, since they were there for months at a time.  Here is the scale, designed to measure mass using a swinging motion

Sleeping in a bag that was strapped to a wall.

Skylab was uniquely situated to see Comet Kohoutek

Comet Kohoutek tops the Christmas Tree

Re entry in 1979, with some fragments near Perth.

Stay tuned!

Peter Lemme
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Follow me on twitter: @Satcom_Guru

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Peter Lemme has been a leader in avionics engineering for 35 years. He offers independent consulting services largely focused on avionics and L, Ku, and Ka band satellite communications to aircraft. Peter chairs the SAE-ITC AEEC Ku/Ka-band satcom subcommittee developing PP848, ARINC 791, and PP792 standards and characteristics.

Peter was Boeing avionics supervisor for 767 and 747-400 data link recording, data link reporting, and satellite communications. He was an FAA designated engineering representative (DER) for ACARS, satellite communications, DFDAU, DFDR, ACMS and printers. Peter was lead engineer for Thrust Management System (757, 767, 747-400), also supervisor for satellite communications for 777, and was manager of terminal-area projects (GLS, MLS, enhanced vision).

An instrument-rated private pilot, single engine land and sea, Peter has enjoyed perspectives from both operating and designing airplanes. Hundreds of hours of flight test analysis and thousands of hours in simulators have given him an appreciation for the many aspects that drive aviation; whether tandem complexity, policy, human, or technical; and the difficulties and challenges to achieving success.

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