Monday, July 27, 2009

When We Left Earth (10): America's Space Station

David J. Shayler; Skylab: America's Space Station (Springer-Praxis; 2001; ISBN 1-85233-407-X; cover from a NASA photograph).

While Apollo's lunar missions brought us to the Moon, Apollo also proved that humans could work and live in space for an extended period of time with the Skylab space station (America's "other" space station). Growing out of plans to take a empty booster stage and install living quarters (part of the Apollo Applications Program), Skylab incorporated living quarters (including a shower and private sleeping areas), space to do experiments and tests in the inside, and a telescope to observe the Sun. Shayler looks at the origins of the station and how it evolved, the near disaster and the complete triumph of the launch and first mission, and the wide differences with the way the three missions played out. There is even a look at the Apollo rescue vehicle (in case one crew needed saving), plans for boosting the lab into a higher orbit (where it might have been used again, if money were available) and the station's ultimate demise. Recommended.

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