Thursday, May 25, 2017

Skylab 2 - first manned mission to Skylab launched 1973

Joseph Kerwin, Pete Conrad, Paul Weitz

May 25, 1973, Commander Charles “Pete” Conrad, Jr., Science Pilot Joseph P. Kerwin and Pilot Paul J. Weitz blasted off in Skylab 2, the first manned mission to Skylab, which had been launched 11 days prior.  The unmanned portion was damaged during its May 14 launch.  The micrometeorite shield and one of its primary solar arrays tore loose during lift-off.  The other primary solar array, which was to keep the space station cool, was jammed.

Skylab crew had to train on repairing techniques before they could enter the station. Upon reaching the station, Weitz performed an EVA to unjam the solar array while Kerwin held onto his legs.  This did not work so they tried a hard dock to Skylab, but this failed as well, since the lathes did not work.  

After a total of eight attempts, Weitz and Kerwin performed another EVA and were successful at docking by disassembling parts of the station’s mechanism.  Then they deployed a collapsible parasol through the scientific airlock as a sunshade to cool the interior to livable levels. 

For almost a month, the crew continued to make repairs to Skylab, conduct medical experiments and gather scientific data.  They performed a final EVA to fix the stuck solar panel and increasing electrical power to the station.

They spent four weeks in space and returned to Earth June 22.

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