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  Space Cover 231: A Tribute to Skylab

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 231: A Tribute to Skylab
Bob M
Member

Posts: 1378
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 09-14-2013 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 231 (September 15, 2013)

Space Cover 231: A Tribute to Skylab

Forty years ago at this time, the second Skylab manned mission, SL-3 (or Skylab-2) was nearing the end of its 59 1/2-day flight. The next mission, SL-4, launching on November 16, 1973, on an 84-day mission, would bring a productive and successful conclusion to America's first manned space station program.

The Skylab Orbital Workshop, launched on May 14, 1973 by the last Saturn V rocket to be used, and after critical repairs by the SL-2 crew, would be home to three crews, and a total of nine Skylab astronauts, for a total of 171 days. The Orbital Workshop itself would stay in orbit from May 14, 1973 until its fiery plunge to the Pacific on July 11, 1979, after 34,961 orbits of the earth.

Skylab was one of NASA's most successful programs, but those of us involved in these weekly Space Cover of the Week features, have mostly neglected it. Now, during its fortieth anniversary is an appropriate time to present a tribute to Skylab. The few covers shown here should provide a fair representation of the many covers and autographs related to Skylab. But we have hopes that other Skylab covers can be presented here, with perhaps some followup SCOTW presentations of more Skylab information and covers. The Skylab Program is too big to "cover" with only one modest presentation, as I have done here, as many covers exist for pre-launch, launch, on orbit, recovery and post-flight events.

At the top is a cover for the first day of the Skylab Medical Experiments Altitude Test (SMEAT) that simulated a Skylab mission, with three astronauts confined in a 20-foot hypobaric chamber at the Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, for 56 days. The NASA/KSC VIP card below it marks the launch of the Skylab Orbital Workshop.

These two covers mark the SL-2 launch (with an official NASA/KSC rubber stamp cachet) and the launch of STS-3, and are autographed by each 3-man crew. The photo is of the Skylab Orbital Workshop, showing the one remaining solar panel array and the heat shade blanket deployed by the SL-2 crew.

The final two covers mark the SL-4, 84-day final Skylab manned mission, and the bottom cover marks the last day in orbit of the Skylab Orbital Workshop and is autographed by all nine Skylab astronauts.

Bob McLeod
SU#1449

Apollo-Soyuz
Member

Posts: 881
From: Shady Side, Md
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 09-14-2013 05:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo-Soyuz   Click Here to Email Apollo-Soyuz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bob- Great SCOTW. It brings back memories of the cooperation we received from the astronauts and project officials.

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John Macco
Space Unit #1457

micropooz
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Posts: 1252
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 09-14-2013 07:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Outstanding topic Bob! And one that we all tend to overlook, having happened between the moon landings and ASTP.

I was a teenaged space-fiend back then, and had seen-the-film and read-the-book "Marooned" a bunch o'times. "Marooned" was a sci-fi novel about a Skylab rescue mission.

So, I became fascinated with the prospect of Skylab rescue missions, and those plans were actually in-place during the program. After the launch of each Skylab mission, the booster for the subsequent mission was rolled out, and preps were made for two of the backup crew to fly up and bring back the prime crew should they be stranded in orbit.

So, here is one of my fave Skylab covers - the rollout of the potential rescue vehicle for Skylab 4, autographed by Vance Brand and Don Lind, who would have flown that rescue mission if necessary (and luckily, it wasn't!).

PS - I believe that this was the launch vehicle and Apollo SM/CM that were used for ASTP, but can't put my finger on that fact right now. Anyone know?

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 1877
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 09-14-2013 07:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At last! As an avid Skylab fan, it was good to see a SCOTW-Skylab tribute here on cS.

Having witnessed and covered all the Skylab missions, America's first pioneering manned space station program is very dear to me, and for many personal reasons.

It should be noted, though, that the first Skylab crew (SL-2) spent 28 days in space, the second (SL-3) was 59.5 days in orbit (not 28), with the final SL-4 crew a record-breaking 84 days in space (not 56).

From when the unmanned Skylab Orbital Workshop Station had been launched into orbit on May 14, 1973, until when the last Skylab crew departed the space station on Feb. 8, 1974, it had been 270 days after logging more than 100 million miles in space over 4,300 orbits of the earth!

The final Skylab crew, who had never been in space before, rose from space rookies to space champs, breaking the previous record for the longest total flight time in space. In all, the SL-4 crew had a mission duration of 84 days, 1 hour, and 16 minutes.

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 1877
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 09-14-2013 09:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To answer John's above question; No, the Skylab/Saturn 1B emergency rescue launch vehicle, which was transported to the pad on Dec. 3, 1973, was not the same used for the next and final Saturn 1B rocket in 1975.

The backup/emergency Saturn 1B used for Skylab was AS-209 with Apollo CSM-119. It stayed on Pad 39B until Feb. 8, 1974, when the final Skylab mission splashed down.

The Saturn 1B with the ASTP crew aboard was designated AS-210 with Apollo CSM-111.

Bob M
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Posts: 1378
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 09-15-2013 08:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Ken, for the mission duration corrections. I was the victim of bad research and bad memory. The corrections have been made and later I also plan to post a few more Skylab covers. Good to see Dennis' special cover.

stevedd841
Member

Posts: 172
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 09-15-2013 09:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Agree with both Ken and Bob, Skylab really was an incredible program and showed the way for astronauts to live and work in space, years before both Mir and the ISS made this seem commonplace. It wasn't.

The cover below is a first day cover for the USPS Skylab stamp issued on the one year anniversary of the launch date of Skylab-1 the program's Orbital Work Station, and is after the successful completion of three Skylab missions, Skylab 2, Skylab 3, and Skylab 4.

The first day cover is signed by the 9 Skylab astronauts of these missions and has always been a favorite of mine. Thanks Bob for a great SCOTW posting!

Antoni RIGO
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Posts: 11
From: Palma de Mallorca, Is. Baleares - SPAIN
Registered: Aug 2013

posted 09-15-2013 11:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Antoni RIGO   Click Here to Email Antoni RIGO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bob. Great topic.
Really Skylab deserves more than one space of the week.
The cover shown is signed by last crew, SL-4, from Greenbelt, MD where Goddard Space Flight Center for tracking launch is located.

Antoni RIGO
SU#4733

Bob M
Member

Posts: 1378
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 09-15-2013 11:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are three more covers to add to the assortment and variety of covers for Skylab. Space cover collecting was very popular then and collectors were treated to a vast number of Skylab covers to choose from - or to create themselves.

The top cover has an SL-1 NASA/KSC official rubber stamp cachet and is double canceled for both the Skylab OWS launch and, then over six years later, its demise.

The middle cover is another NASA/KSC cacheted cover for SL-3 and is autographed by the five SL-3 Flight Directors (Charles Lewis, Donald Puddy (who kindly had the cover signed for me), Philip Shaffer, Neil Hutchinson and Milt Windler).

The bottom cover was canceled at Ellington AFB, TX for the arrival of the SL-4 crew there from San Diego, CA following their 84-day Skylab flight and autographed by the crew.

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 1877
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 09-15-2013 12:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone out there have a single signed Skylab cover by all the prime 9 crew members along with backup astronauts Schweickart, Musgrave, McCandless, Brand, Lind, Lenoir, and SMEAT crewmen Crippen, Bobko, and Thornton? I would love to see such a cover or even a photo as my collection does lack such an entry.

With this year marking the 40th anniversary of the Skylab program, now would be a good time to locate and post some Skylab covers here.

Apollo-Soyuz
Member

Posts: 881
From: Shady Side, Md
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 09-21-2013 05:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo-Soyuz   Click Here to Email Apollo-Soyuz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a Skylab cover autographed by Lubos Kohoutek, discoverer of the comet bearing his name.

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John Macco
Space Unit #1457

Apollo-Soyuz
Member

Posts: 881
From: Shady Side, Md
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 09-25-2013 07:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo-Soyuz   Click Here to Email Apollo-Soyuz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a Skylab-3 launch cover autographed by backup crew.

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