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Skylab

America's first space station, the 75 ton Skylab was launched May 14, 1973 by a Saturn V booster (SL-1). Severely damaged at the launch, including a ripped meteor shield and a damaged solar panel, the station was repaired by the first crew launched May 25, 1973 (SL-2[?]) at top of a Saturn 1B[?]. Two additional missions followed at July 28, 1973 (SL-3[?]) and November 16, 1973 (SL-4[?]) with stay times between 30 - 90 days. The last Skylab crew stayed 84 days in space and returned to Earth on February 8, 1974.

Skylab was actually a refitted third stage of a Saturn V booster, a leftover from the Apollo program originally intended for one of the canceled missions Apollo 18-20. Following the last mission the Station was positioned in a parking orbit expected to last at least 8 years. Increased solar activity heating the outer layers of the earth atmosphere and braking the Station led finally to an early impact at July 11, 1979. The space station disintegrated over Western Australia and the Indian Ocean, casting large pieces of debris in populated areas (without injury). The impact prevented any further use by the then not finished Space Shuttle as it was envisioned by some at NASA.


Skylab is the name of a research facility located at Earth's South Pole, in the geodesic dome of the United States' South Pole Station[?].



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