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  Space Cover 233: A Lab in the Sky, Skylab!

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 233: A Lab in the Sky, Skylab!
stevedd841
Member

Posts: 180
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 09-29-2013 03:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 233 (September 29, 2013)

Double exposure photo showing physical differences in rockets between Skylab 1 (left) and Skylab 2 (right) on its barstool pad, photo NASA-JSC.

A total of three astronaut crews will journey into space on Skylab manned flights. This NASA cachet cover for the launch of Skylab 1 on May 14, 1973, is signed by all three astronaut crews. The signatures on this cover are, from left to right: Jerry Carr, Paul Weitz, Joe Kerwin, Bill Pogue, Alan Bean, Jack Lousma, Owen Garriott, Ed Gibson, and Charles "Pete" Conrad.

Space Cover 233: A Lab in the Sky, Skylab!

At 1:30 pm sharp in the afternoon, the Saturn V, Skylab 1 rocket blasts-off into space and Earth orbit from LC-39A, May 14, 1973, at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Significant Skylab objectives for the first two Skylab mission crews include the ability to live and work in space for extended periods, extend the science of solar astronomy beyond Earth, improve techniques for surveying Earth resources from space, and increase human knowledge in a variety of other scientific and technological regimens. And, in a second mission at LC-39B, the Skylab 2 crew is scheduled to launch only 24 hours behind the launch of the Orbital Workstation in Skylab 1!

Only 63 seconds into flight, serious technical problems develop for Skylab 1 as a result of severe vibrations during the Saturn V's liftoff wreck havoc on the Skylab orbital workshop. The flight's meteoroid shield, vital to protecting the flight's orbital workshop from meteoroid and miniature particles in orbit, is ripped-off the orbital workshop. The shield completely tears away one of the flight's two solar array panels, with debris from the meteoroid shield wrapping around the other solar array panel of the workshop and preventing it from fully deploying. The loss of the meteoroid shield further becomes a serious problem as the crew compartment temperature rises to 126 degrees Fahrenheit. The mission now has a serious thermal problem as well.

Drastically below the 8,500 watt electrical requirement for the mission, enough power was available to handle only critical electrical load requirements. Components and systems not being used were turned off or were power cycled as necessary to provide power generation to primary systems. Without these necessary steps, high increasing internal temperature in the orbital workshop would have melted insulation and caused formation of poisonous gases that would be hazardous to the health of the Skylab 2 crew due to arrive within 24 hours.

The countdown had started for the Skylab 2 crew of Commander Pete Conrad, Scientist Pilot Joe Kerwin, and Pilot Paul Weitz, the first Skylab crew and located one and a half miles away at LC-39B. As Skylab 1 had rocketed into space and Earth orbit from the adjoining launch pad at LC-39A, the flight was in serious trouble. Sixty-three seconds into the launch, Houston Mission Control Center engineers confirmed a solar array panel on Skylab 1 had been ripped away during the launch and the remaining solar array panel was somehow jammed and would not fully deploy. It was not an auspicious sequence of events for the crew of Skylab 2, the first manned Skylab mission, as their flight is placed on hold for ten frustrating days until corrective action to fix the emergent failures paralyzing Skylab 1 and repairs determined to fix the workshop failures that had occurred and to be made by the crew.

Skylab 2 Scientist Pilot, Joe Kerwin, later remarked, "The situation that faced our crew as we launched, of course, was the broke Skylab. It was hot; it lacked electrical power. The whole program might be lost, and we launched with a command module full of instruments many of which we had never seen before. They handed us the checklist kind of on the way in and said, 'Good luck, guys!' "

After the ten day delay and now outfitted for the tasks to be completed, the Skylab 2 flight clears the launch tower at LC-39B at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, Mission Control Center, Houston, takes control of the flight. Nine minutes and fifty seconds after liftoff, Skylab 2 is in Earth orbit and closing on Skylab 1's the orbital workshop (OWS). On the fifth orbit of the mission, the Skylab 2 crew is set up in a good position to dock their SL-2 command service module with the Skylab orbital workshop.

Upon rendezvous, Skylab 2's crew performs a fly around inspection of the damaged Skylab 1, crippled after launch ten days earlier. The crew provides detailed descriptions of the space station and also provide television coverage from the command service module to accurately record the damage they see. The crew, in awe, observes that the solar array panel for beam two was completely gone and the solar array panel for beam one was partially deployed but stopped from full deployment by a fragment of the meteoroid shield wedged against it and holding it tightly in place. Large segments of the meteoroid shield were missing. Soft-docking with Skylab 1, crewmember Paul Weitz is held by astronaut Joe Kerwin as he uses a boat hook to try to unseat Skylab's jammed solar array panel, but the attempt fails. Astronaut Paul Weitz succinctly comments, "…we ain't going to do it with the tools we've got!"

The Skylab 2 crew tries to hard-dock with the space station in seven successive attempts but fails on each attempt due to a balky docking mechanism that worked perfectly the first time it was tried, but does not work now. Not wanting to abort the mission, the crew dons their spacesuits, depressurizes the command module, removes the probe assembly, and makes repairs to it. The crew then tries again and successfully docks with the orbital workshop on this new attempt. The crew is greatly relieved as they complete their first work period, an exhaustive twenty-two hour workday for this first crewed Skylab mission. It has been a full, problematic, and frustrating day with NASA officials thinking the entire $2.5 billion Skylab Project and jury-rigged repair operation to salvage Skylab and the orbital workshop could end in failure.

Skylab's OWS bakes in direct sunlight, and the crew of Skylab 2 has to work quickly as high temperatures in the workshop release toxic gases and other byproducts from wiring and electronic components that can spoil film, food, and water for Skylab missions. After the crew fails to release the jammed solar panel, they set-up the replacement parasol sunshade and the basic repair starts to work. High temperatures of 125 F inside the Skylab OWS start to subside and drop low enough for the crew to enter the space station.

Conrad and Kerwin take another try at freeing the jammed and partially deployed solar panel on the orbital workshop during a second EVA, June 7, 1973, and the two astronauts are finally successful in doing this by cutting loose the debris holding the panel in place. As the solar array panel is finally freed, the torque from the released panel throws Conrad and Kerwin into space. Fortunately, the two astronauts are tethered and do not become one-man astronaut satellites as Skylab 2 and the OWS orbit the Earth.

The crew takes a stunning photo of Skylab 1's orbital workshop upon completion of their 28-day mission to save the Skylab workshop and the Skylab mission. As the crew pulls away in Skylab 2's command service module to return to Earth, they capture a still photo looking back at the 80-ton Skylab space station as it gracefully traverses its orbit over a deep blue ocean outlined by delicate white cirrus clouds. In the photo, the repaired solar panels are clearly shown along with the improvised sunshade put in place by the crew, and the freed and fully extended solar array panel that restored full power to the space station. The scene is a beautiful sight to see, and by itself is quiet testimony to the remarkable achievement of the Skylab 2 crew as they turned impending failure of the Skylab space station and mission into a remarkable success through their heroic efforts.

Steve Durst, SU 4379

stevedd841
Member

Posts: 180
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 09-29-2013 03:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover #233 - A Lab in the Sky, Skylab! (Continued)

After the ten day delay and now outfitted for the tasks to be completed, the Skylab 2 flight clears the launch tower at LC-39B at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, Mission Control Center, Houston, takes control of the flight. Nine minutes and fifty seconds after liftoff, Skylab 2 is in Earth orbit and closing on Skylab 1's the orbital workshop (OWS). On the fifth orbit of the mission, the Skylab 2 crew is set up in a good position to dock their SL-2 command service module with the Skylab orbital workshop.

Upon rendezvous, Skylab 2's crew performs a fly around inspection of the damaged Skylab 1, crippled after launch ten days earlier. The crew provides detailed descriptions of the space station and also provide television coverage from the command service module to accurately record the damage they see. The crew, in awe, observes that the solar array panel for beam two was completely gone and the solar array panel for beam one was partially deployed but stopped from full deployment by a fragment of the meteoroid shield wedged against it and holding it tightly in place. Large segments of the meteoroid shield were missing. Soft-docking with Skylab 1, crewmember Paul Weitz is held by astronaut Joe Kerwin as he uses a boat hook to try to unseat Skylab's jammed solar array panel, but the attempt fails. Astronaut Paul Weitz succinctly comments, "…we ain't going to do it with the tools we've got!"

The Skylab 2 crew tries to hard-dock with the space station in seven successive attempts but fails on each attempt due to a balky docking mechanism that worked perfectly the first time it was tried, but does not work now. Not wanting to abort the mission, the crew dons their spacesuits, depressurizes the command module, removes the probe assembly, and makes repairs to it. The crew then tries again and successfully docks with the orbital workshop on this new attempt. The crew is greatly relieved as they complete their first work period, an exhaustive twenty-two hour workday for this first crewed Skylab mission. It has been a full, problematic, and frustrating day with NASA officials thinking the entire $2.5 billion Skylab Project and jury-rigged repair operation to salvage Skylab and the orbital workshop could end in failure.

Skylab's OWS bakes in direct sunlight, and the crew of Skylab 2 has to work quickly as high temperatures in the workshop release toxic gases and other byproducts from wiring and electronic components that can spoil film, food, and water for Skylab missions. After the crew fails to release the jammed solar panel, they set-up the replacement parasol sunshade and the basic repair starts to work. High temperatures of 126 F inside the Skylab OWS start to subside and drop low enough for the crew to enter the space station.

Conrad and Kerwin take another try at freeing the jammed and partially deployed solar panel on the orbital workshop during a second EVA, June 7, 1973, and the two astronauts are finally successful in doing this by cutting loose the debris holding the panel in place. As the solar array panel is finally freed, the torque from the released panel throws Conrad and Kerwin into space. Fortunately, the two astronauts are tethered and do not become one-man astronaut satellites as Skylab 2 and the OWS orbit the Earth.

The crew takes a stunning photo of Skylab 1's orbital workshop upon completion of their 28-day mission to save the Skylab workshop and the Skylab mission. See the photo below. As the crew pulls away in Skylab 2's command service module to return to Earth, they capture a still photo looking back at the 80-ton Skylab space station as it gracefully traverses its orbit over a deep blue ocean outlined by delicate white cirrus clouds. In the photo, the repaired solar panels are clearly shown along with the improvised sunshade put in place by the crew, and the freed and fully extended solar array panel that restored full power to the space station. The scene is a beautiful sight to see, and by itself is quiet testimony to the remarkable achievement of the Skylab 2 crew as they turned impending failure of the Skylab space station and mission into a remarkable success through their heroic efforts.

micropooz
Member

Posts: 1256
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 09-29-2013 06:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is the Sarzin Cachet for the Skylab 2 launch and docking (machine cancelled at Cape Canaveral on May 25, 1973). The cachet gives some detail on the damage observed by the crew...

Apollo-Soyuz
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Posts: 883
From: Shady Side, Md
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 09-30-2013 03:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo-Soyuz   Click Here to Email Apollo-Soyuz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This Skylab cover was autographed by Jack Kinzler who at the time of Skylab was Chief Technical Services Division at JSC and who invented the parasol concept to save Skylab.

------------------
John Macco
Space Unit #1457

stevedd841
Member

Posts: 180
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 10-01-2013 08:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Many thanks, John and Dennis, for your space covers adding to the thread for this Skylab posting. I also wanted to add some additional Skylab covers to emphasize the importance of the Skylab 2 mission in particular in saving the 2.5 billion Skylab Program. It was a remarkable heroic mission in every respect and one of NASA's finest hours.

Pete Conrad and Joe Kerwin unjam the partially deployed solar panel on the orbital workshop during a second EVA, June 7, 1973. When the solar array panel is freed, the generated torque from the released solar panel launches the luckily tethered astronauts into free space. The cover shown is a Clyde Sarzin cover during the SL-2 mission.

A George Goldey extra vehicular activity cover for the SL-2 spacewalk of Conrad and Weitz is shown on the date of their EVA, June 19, 1973, and hand cancelled in Houston, Texas. The spacewalk by the astronauts retrieves over 50,000 photos and 11 film cassettes from the Skylab Apollo Telescope Mount, more photos than other previous NASA space mission.

SL-2 commander Pete Conrad gives new meaning to a hot wash-up nearing the end of his space mission, photo credit NASA-JSC.

Bob M
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Posts: 1381
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 10-02-2013 06:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There were two SL-2 Saturn 1B rollouts, with the first one a preliminary rollout on January 9 to check fuel and electrical lines and for any unexpected problems with the unique "Bar Stool" concept of launching from the Saturn V LC-39A pad. Then on February 26, the second rollout occurred in preparation for the May 25th SL-2 launch.

These two covers mark those rollouts, with the second cover having an unusual magenta color official NASA/KSC rubber stamp cachet (it is believed that certain collectors were allowed access to the KSC post office and were provided philatelic privileges. No, not Ken H.).

As a comparison to Steve's June 7th Skylab OWS solar panel repair cover above, here's another cover, nicely autographed by the SL-2 crew, with a rubber stamp cachet and with the incorrect wording that the repair work was done "...in deep space."

Ken Havekotte
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Posts: 1894
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 10-02-2013 08:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just a few comments in regards to Bob's recent posting here.

Yes, there were a few leading members of the KSC Philatelic Society (KSCPS) that were granted "special requests" on some of their Apollo and Skylab covers throughout the 1970s, and even beforehand in some cases.

But their access to the main KSC Post Office, inside the Headquarters Building of the Industrial Area, were authorized since they all had KSC-NASA issued badges as space center employees and workers.

A couple of well-known German space cover dealers, working closely with some of the veteran members of the KSCPS and with KSC's chief of mail and distribution services, were also able to acquire unusual covers as Bob has noted with the above depicted SL-2 official NASA rubber stamp cachet cover.

With so many years gone by, does anyone remember an incident known as "the Helios cachet affair" in Dec. 1974?

Now that is a completely different story that I think has already been told before.

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 1894
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 10-02-2013 09:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh yes, forgot to mention about the last Skylab cover depicted by Bob (see above).

The somewhat unusual "Spaceport USA" blue rubber stamp cachet, depicting an Apollo/Saturn V rocket launch, with "John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida" at bottom, apparently had a short life.

I am only aware of three known occasions where the rubber stamp cachet had been applied; for Skylab events on June 7, (blue), 12 (red) and Aug. 2 (blue) of 1973.

It was at first believed by some veteran space cover collectors to be an official rubber stamp cachet of sorts provided by Trans World Airlines, Inc., at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, an Apollo support team company that had been responsible for conducting space center tours and visitor information services.

But in fact, it was not to be, as the unusual cachet had no direct connection to TWA's visitor information center, as I had been told long ago.

Many of the cachets recently showed up in a space cover collection estate sale, belonging to space cover producer Dave O./Heritage Crafts, that I was able to acquire a couple of years ago.

Bob M
Member

Posts: 1381
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 10-03-2013 09:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Glad to learn from Ken that the covers that differed from the standard color (blue) official NASA/KSC cachets were the result of authorized access to the KSC post office and not just from some unethical "back door" opportunities.

I had wondered about my red/magenta SL-2 Rollout-2 cacheted cover for some time, especially considering who I got it from and who had been involved in a paid back-dating scheme many years ago at the Edwards p.o. (and is no one now actively involved in the hobby).

Also from that person, I did buy a number of other NASA/KSC rubber stamp cacheted covers for unusual events - such as EVA's and rollouts ("SL-4 Rollout/Rescue Vehicle") - that were minor events not meant for or allowed to be cacheted with NASA/KSC cachets.

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 1894
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 10-03-2013 10:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just saw your posting, Bob, but keep in mind that perhaps some official NASA cachet varieties with different dates and colors used could be bogus as well.

Not all would originate from KSCPS sources, however, I do believe that others similar to your SL-2 cover variety could in fact be an unauthorized or even a bogus attempt from "outside" space cover dealers, including another even from the USA that is no longer active commercially in the hobby.

But I do know for fact, though, that at least two prominent KSCPS members throughout the Apollo/Skylab era did produce unusual KSC-ONC versions as this, rather authorized or not, is not for me to say.

Bob M
Member

Posts: 1381
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 10-03-2013 11:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, Ken, fake NASA/KSC cachets have long been suspected and even found, including fake NASA/KSC rubber stamp cachets for Apollo 11 (and I remember being offered a *black* ink official NASA/KSC cacheted cover by the infamous Charles Riser). A future SCOTW feature on suspect or fake NASA/KSC cachets would be in order.

Steve Zarelli
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Posts: 353
From: Upstate New York, USA
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 10-05-2013 07:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve Zarelli   Click Here to Email Steve Zarelli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting stuff! Thanks for sharing.

DOX32
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Posts: 210
From: Fairfax, VA USA
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 10-07-2013 02:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DOX32   Click Here to Email DOX32     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bob a discussion and review of Riser fakes is definitely in order. A recently completed eBay autograph lot (350885933661) had many examples in it.

Is there a website that lists know Riser fakes?

micropooz
Member

Posts: 1256
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 10-07-2013 06:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Woody, the best I have seen is Paul Bulver's update to Les Winick's 1975 study of suspect space covers. It is available on CD here.

DOX32
Member

Posts: 210
From: Fairfax, VA USA
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 10-08-2013 11:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DOX32   Click Here to Email DOX32     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dennis I have the CD. Riser items are sprinkled throughout it. Looking for a single source of known Riser covers.

Most of these have postal stationery stamps, correct?

All times are CT (US)

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