Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Skylab Mission page

Skylab Mission page – http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/skylab/index.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What’s involved in creating a working bathroom in zero g?
  • When were the first and last Skylab missions?
  • How did NASA control Skylab when it had no crew?
  • What can you do if your docking thrusters misfire?


Before Mir was Skylab, our low key successor to Apollo. From the website:

Skylab was launched into Earth orbit by a Saturn V rocket on May 14, 1973. Through the use of a “dry” third stage of the Saturn V rocket, the station was completely outfitted as a workshop area before launch. Crews visited Skylab and returned to Earth in Apollo spacecraft.

Three, three-man crews occupied the Skylab workshop for a total of 171 days and 13 hours. It was the site of nearly 300 scientific and technical experiments, including medical experiments on humans’ adaptability to zero gravity, solar experiments and detailed Earth resources experiments.

Skylab was small compared to the Mir and ISS stations. Unlike Mir, Skylab had long periods where it was uninhabited. There were not regular shift changes where one crew handed off the station to another.

The site links to several NASA books that may be useful for establishing station context:

  • Skylab: A Chronology (Includes statistical appendix)
  • Living and Working in Space – Chapter 8 talks about the challenges of a working space toilet.
  • Skylab, Classroom in Space

Photos and video are also available on the site.


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