Striking SkyLab   Leave a comment

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Skylab

If you had the opportunity to rocket out to space and orbit the Earth, would you seriously consider going on strike during the experience?

That’s exactly what the crew of the last manned mission of SkyLab did.  Commander Gerald Carr, Pilot William Pogue and Scientist Edward Gibson, all space rookies, served on an 84 day mission that consisted of long days with many tasks to complete.  Eventually, the crew became exhausted and fell behind schedule.  Worse, Pogue succumbed to space sickness and attempted to hide it from mission controllers.  Skylab astronauts called it “space crud,” which consisted of headaches, dizziness, nausea and the inevitable vomiting.

Complaints were made and rebuffed by Mission Control, who believed the men were too lax in performing their duties.  An overwhelming schedule left little or no time for the occupants of SkyLab to enjoy the magnificent view afforded them out the window.  About halfway through their mission, the crew had had enough.  All were exhausted, requested a break and then helped themselves to time off.  Cape Canaveral’s crew became mystified.  This never happened before – a crew going on strike? Believing it to be depression or medically caused lethargy, the SkyLab astronauts disagreed.  All they wanted was a chance to gaze out the window and take in the beauty of all that Earth and space.  Clearly the profound experience of watching the home planet from such a vantage point affected all of them deeply, and although their work was of great importance, the ability to gaze downward at the Earth in all of its beauty instilled a sense of wonder difficult to express.  More time was needed to cherish what laid before them and to contemplate their emotions regarding it.

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Scientist-Astronaut Edward G. Gibson, Skylab 4 science pilot, stands at the Apollo Telescope Mount (ATM) console in the Multiple Docking Adapter (MDA) of the Skylab space station cluster in Earth orbit.

From that point on, the mission workload eased.  As a result, production increased and the men had performed more work than previously planned.  Amazing displays of space grandeur awaited. Gibson monitored the sun’s surface and watched the development of a solar flare on January 21, 1974  and filmed its development, a first from space.  Many photographs were taken of the Earth, including Area 51, which went ignored for years.

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Scientist-Astronaut Edward G. Gibson, science pilot for the Skylab 4 mission, demonstrates the effects of zero-gravity as he sails through airlock module hatch.

Also during their mission, Comet Kohoetek made its dramatic appearance  in mid-December 1973, and on December 30, during a spacewalk, the comet appeared from behind the sun to continue its return to its origins.

Skylab Mission 4 returned to Earth on February 8, 1974, having logged 1,214 Earth orbits,  four EVAs totalling 22 hours, 13 minutes, traveling 34.5 million miles in 84 days in space.

Posted March 11, 2014 by seleneymoon in Space Missions

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