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July 11, 1979, End of Skylab
Bill Harris
post Jul 11 2006, 12:53 PM
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(Shamelessly re-cycled from Space Modelers http://groups.yahoo.com/group/space-modelers/ )

From the BBC:

1979: Skylab tumbles back to Earth

The US space laboratory, Skylab I, plunged to Earth this evening
scattering debris across the southern Indian Ocean and sparsely
populated Western Australia.

All week there has been mounting speculation over where the spacecraft
would come down. It has been in orbit six years - for the past five of
those it has been unoccupied.

Skylab's last signal was recorded at 1611 GMT. Less than an hour later a
tracking station at Ascension Island in the South Atlantic confirmed the
solar panels were beginning to peel off as the craft descended.
The 77.5 ton Skylab could break into as many as 500 pieces. The 5,100 lb
(2,310 kg) airlock shroud and 3,900 lb (1,767 kg) lead safe, which
protects film from radiation, are expected to survive the heat of
re-entry into the earth's atmosphere.

Head of the NASA task force monitoring Skylab, Richard Smith, said they
had already received reports of hot debris, which had lit up the night
sky, from several points in Western Australia.

'Edge of Cornwall'

Dozens of residents reported seeing debris falling near Kalgoorlie, 370
miles (595 km) northeast of Perth.

Skylab was launched on 14 May 1973 and was lived in by three teams of
astronauts for periods of up to 84 days as they tested human endurance
over long periods of weightlessness.

While the astronauts were on board they were able to carry out many
valuable scientific experiments including analysis of the sun's activity
and how it affected the Earth.

Skylab was abandoned by the last crew in February 1974, since when
scientists have only had limited control over it. It was supposed to
stay in orbit until the mid-1980s when the new shuttle would have come
to its rescue.

A Skylab task force of computer specialists, engineers, lawyers and
public relations experts has been on standby at various NASA centres.
It has been very difficult to predict exactly where and when the craft
would finally come down. Only two days ago, a NASA spokesman had been
predicting it would land near the "edge of Cornwall".

In India, the police in all 22 states were put on full alert and the
civil aviation department was planning to ban flights across the
sub-continent during the crucial hours of re-entry.

Skylab's final orbital path, its 34,981st, passed over the north
Pacific, the north west tip of the United States, south central Canada,
north of Montreal and Ottawa and the state of Maine


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Guest_DonPMitchell_*
post Jul 12 2006, 06:54 PM
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You used to be able to buy pieces of Skylab from COLLECTspace.com, but I think they've all been sold now.

There is a whole economy in Kazakhstan for processing the fallen Soyuz stages that rain down on the steppe. The Russian military collect a few key components, and then the locals bring out their cutting torches and slice up the titanium and sell it.
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stevesliva
post Jul 12 2006, 07:56 PM
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QUOTE (Bill Harris @ Jul 11 2006, 08:53 AM) *
Skylab was abandoned by the last crew in February 1974, since when
scientists have only had limited control over it. It was supposed to
stay in orbit until the mid-1980s when the new shuttle would have come
to its rescue.

Sad! 70 TONS of space station, the last boon of the Saturn V, burning up.
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SkyeLab
post Jul 13 2006, 08:11 AM
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To quote from the great Mark Twain "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

SkyeLab

wink.gif


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"There are 10 types of people in the world - those who understand binary code, and those who don't."
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deglr6328
post Jul 13 2006, 08:48 AM
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are there NO images of this reentry?
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Bill Harris
post Jul 13 2006, 09:49 AM
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Didn't see any re-entry pix when I google'd "skylab re-entry".

I did find a Skylab launch image on Wikipedia, though.

--Bill


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Chmee
post Jul 13 2006, 05:19 PM
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It's too bad that Skylab did not stay up a couple more years. It would have been interesting to have seen a Shuttle docking with it. The shuttel program probably would have looked alot different with Skylab up there during the '80's (with periodic boosts from the shuttle of course).
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Toma B
post Jul 13 2006, 05:59 PM
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QUOTE (Chmee @ Jul 13 2006, 07:19 PM) *
It's too bad that Skylab did not stay up a couple more years. It would have been interesting to have seen a Shuttle docking with it.

Now that's interesting idea...would it be possible for Space Shuttle to dock to Skylab at all?
Would Skylab be of any use to NASA after so many years spent without crew and there is a problem with only one docking port...first they should attach "Node-1" to it...
However that is nice idea...


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The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful.
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My "Astrophotos" gallery on flickr...
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ljk4-1
post Jul 13 2006, 06:41 PM
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I had written in the other Skylab thread on this forum the question of why
didn't they use Skylab as a big solar observatory after 1974, seeing how
well it did while the astronauts were on board. No sense having this big
hunk of metal with a good astronomical telescope just drift around Earth
over and over. But apparently NASA either did not want or did not think
about using Skylab for scientific purposes after the last human crew left.

Maybe they were hoping that a Space Shuttle mission would save it, but
they still could have done something scientificially useful with Skylab -
after all, it was already in space and had a real working telescope ready
to keep going. But I am probably just thinking logically and not
bureaucratically.

As for rescuing an abandonded space station, the Soyuz T15 mission did
that with Salyut 7 in 1986 in an amazing mission that does not nearly get
the publicity it should to this day.

And NASA was plannnig a special robot ship that a Space Shuttle would
have attached to Skylab to boost it into a higher orbit. Perhaps they
could have launched the rescue robot on an expendable rocket, but
there goes that logical thinking again.


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"After having some business dealings with men, I am occasionally chagrined,
and feel as if I had done some wrong, and it is hard to forget the ugly circumstance.
I see that such intercourse long continued would make one thoroughly prosaic, hard,
and coarse. But the longest intercourse with Nature, though in her rudest moods, does
not thus harden and make coarse. A hard, sensible man whom we liken to a rock is
indeed much harder than a rock. From hard, coarse, insensible men with whom I have
no sympathy, I go to commune with the rocks, whose hearts are comparatively soft."

- Henry David Thoreau, November 15, 1853

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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Jul 13 2006, 07:15 PM
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QUOTE (ljk4-1 @ Jul 13 2006, 08:41 AM) *
I had written in the other Skylab thread on this forum the question of why
didn't they use Skylab as a big solar observatory after 1974, seeing how
well it did while the astronauts were on board. No sense having this big
hunk of metal with a good astronomical telescope just drift around Earth
over and over. But apparently NASA either did not want or did not think
about using Skylab for scientific purposes after the last human crew left.

I know that Skylab ATM Solar Observatory operations were capable of remote control by the ground but were science data able to be downlinked remotely? Wasn't there a need for an onboard crew to change out film canisters for some or all of the solar instruments via EVA? And from the link I gave above, there were pointing stability and thermal control issues as well for effective operation.
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djellison
post Jul 13 2006, 07:31 PM
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QUOTE (ljk4-1 @ Jul 13 2006, 07:41 PM) *
I had written in the other Skylab thread on this forum the question of why
didn't they use Skylab as a big solar observatory after 1974, seeing how
well it did while the astronauts were on board. No sense having this big
hunk of metal with a good astronomical telescope just drift around Earth
over and over. But apparently NASA either did not want or did not think
about using Skylab for scientific purposes after the last human crew left.


It used film didn't it? Some of the instruments certainly did - and without a crew there's no way to bring it back or replace it.

Doug
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ljk4-1
post Jul 13 2006, 07:58 PM
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QUOTE (djellison @ Jul 13 2006, 03:31 PM) *
It used film didn't it? Some of the instruments certainly did - and without a crew there's no way to bring it back or replace it.

Doug


I know, I just find it unfortunate that NASA did not consider the ability to
transmit the science data automatically, and Skylab certainly wasn't all
that far from Earth.

It is also unfortunate that they didn't equip the space station with the
ability to boost itself higher, like the Salyuts of the same era could.

The Soviet stations even had the ability to be remotely de-orbited,
which would have made Skylab's return a bit less dramatic if it could
have done the same.


--------------------
"After having some business dealings with men, I am occasionally chagrined,
and feel as if I had done some wrong, and it is hard to forget the ugly circumstance.
I see that such intercourse long continued would make one thoroughly prosaic, hard,
and coarse. But the longest intercourse with Nature, though in her rudest moods, does
not thus harden and make coarse. A hard, sensible man whom we liken to a rock is
indeed much harder than a rock. From hard, coarse, insensible men with whom I have
no sympathy, I go to commune with the rocks, whose hearts are comparatively soft."

- Henry David Thoreau, November 15, 1853

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djellison
post Jul 13 2006, 08:10 PM
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It's unfortuante they didn't sort out STS a few years earlier and get people back in there....but it's all history.

Time and money barely made Skylab possible in the state that it flew, let alone anything more.

Doug
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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Jul 13 2006, 08:15 PM
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QUOTE (ljk4-1 @ Jul 13 2006, 09:58 AM) *
I know, I just find it unfortunate that NASA did not consider the ability to
transmit the science data automatically...

So you weren't really asking why Skylab wasn't used for something it couldn't do, you were wondering why NASA didn't design a better space station to begin with?

I guess one can always think of a better design but, as the old saying goes, the perfect is the enemy of the good. I mean, after all, Orville and Wilbur could have worked a little harder and planned a little further ahead and built a P-51 Mustang, no?
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ljk4-1
post Jul 13 2006, 08:24 PM
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QUOTE (AlexBlackwell @ Jul 13 2006, 04:15 PM) *
So you weren't really asking why Skylab wasn't used for something it couldn't do, you were wondering why NASA didn't design a better space station to begin with?

I guess one can always think of a better design but, as the old saying goes, the perfect is the enemy of the good. I mean, after all, Orville and Wilbur could have worked a little harder and planned a little further ahead and built a P-51 Mustang, no?


Correct, and while I don't think the modifications I would have liked to see
on Skylab were all that radical (the Soviets did it in the 1970s, after all), as
has been said the budget and plans for Skylab weren't really meant to stretch
as far into the future as one might have been originally led to believe, just as
with Apollo.


--------------------
"After having some business dealings with men, I am occasionally chagrined,
and feel as if I had done some wrong, and it is hard to forget the ugly circumstance.
I see that such intercourse long continued would make one thoroughly prosaic, hard,
and coarse. But the longest intercourse with Nature, though in her rudest moods, does
not thus harden and make coarse. A hard, sensible man whom we liken to a rock is
indeed much harder than a rock. From hard, coarse, insensible men with whom I have
no sympathy, I go to commune with the rocks, whose hearts are comparatively soft."

- Henry David Thoreau, November 15, 1853

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