What is it like living in space, not just visiting for a little while but actually setting up a home and living and working there for two months? Beyond the novel and unique circumstances encountered immediately, what is day-today life like as a “resident in orbit”? In other words what is it like to “homestead space”? And, when you return to Earth, how do you hang on to an accurate memory of the unique experiences you’ve lived through?
For two members of the Skylab 11 crew, the best way to remember the details of their homesteading adventure was to maintain an in-flight diary. It would have to be done in the minimal time available after all the science and other work was accomplished. Yet both commander Alan Bean and science pilot Owen Garriott maintained a journal during their time on Sky – lab, preserving not only a chronology of mission events but also a personal record of their thoughts and impressions during their stay in space.
“We launched and arrived at Skylab on July 28, 1973, called Mission Day i,” Garriott explained. “As you may imagine, we were pretty busy at first and even though I hoped to make entries in my in-flight diary every day, some days were just too full. Still, as I reread the entries today, now over three decades later, the mission flow and a sense of continuity remain. It was actually Mission Day 4, or July 31, before I had a chance to make my first entry.”
Alan Bean wrote in his journal after going to bed at night, as a way to wind down his day. Neither of his fellow crewmembers was even aware of the existence of this diary at the time—nor, for that matter, until more than thirty-two years later when he contributed it for this book.
(The excerpts from the Bean diary in this chapter have been modified with direction from Bean, for the sake of clarity. The entire diary is reproduced in unabridged form as an appendix.)
Alan’s first writing was done on Day 10 (6 August 1973), although he starts by referring back to events prior to launch:
Launch Day. I am writing this in the morning of day io. Could not sleep, eva today, so thought I might catch up. Slept well early tonight [the night before launch], took Seconal and hit the bed about 7pm, so did Jack and Owen. Awakened on time by Al Shepard. He andDeke [Slayton] kept track of us the last few weeks more than usual. This has mixed blessings…. First there were the microbiological samples. Then physical. Then eat. . . . . Al Shepard rides with us in van as far as the Launch Control Center. I watched him because he held the rdz [rendezvous] book—when he got up to get off, he forgot [to leave the book] and I had to ask. On the way he told us he was our last minute back up—he then mentioned John Glenn having his suit at the suit room prior to Al’s first flight [ready to take Al’s place].
Despite the thruster problems during their approach and rendezvous phase, the SL-3 crew was able to dock with Skylab with no further problems. The hatch was opened, and Skylab became the first spacecraft to be lived in by two different crews.
Lousma described his first moments in his new space home: “I remember being in the Multiple Docking Adapter, in which everything was oriented around the circumference. And I never did figure that out for two months.” Most of the architecture in the workshop, including the lower deck used for experiment and living areas, had a normal Earth-like configuration, where there was an “up” and “down” as on the ground. But when an astronaut floated through the Airlock Module or the Multiple Docking Adapter, he was never sure what orientation to expect. It always required examination of the experiments mounted around the circumference to get in the proper position to operate the hardware.
Very shortly after the crew entered the Skylab, though, a new problem arose. As they began settling into the station, the symptoms of space sickness began to be felt.
Garriott, MD-4 (9:30 p. m. on 31 July):
Writing in “mid-air"— difficult!—First day, thru rendezvous, no noticeable or unexpected symptoms, altho didn’t want much to eat. After rendezvous I began working in the md/ows, did notice symptoms of “stomach awareness". Jack did become sick, but problem with adaptation not fully realized.
By md-2, wanted almost nothing to eat & intermittently became very queasy.
Believe I had one Scop-Dex that evening & an hour later began considerable improvement in feeling & outlook. Still not hungry. Jack sick several times early, then got on Scop-Dex with some improvement. Al usually pretty active but indicates problems with too much head movement. Message arrives saying take Scop-Dex tomorrow & if start, take another one every 4 hours. On this day (md – 2), I do ~jo min of head movements after pill. Jack & Al don’t [do head movements], altho they took drug.
NASA was already well aware of the possibility of “space sickness,” but the fact that the first Skylab crew did not encounter much if any space sickness may have led people to think that it might not be encountered on later flights as well. “My diary concentrates on the ‘stomach awareness’ or ‘space sickness’ for several reasons,” Garriott explained. “It was a major objective of the flight experimentation to find out the degree of discomfort and hopefully how to minimize or avoid its occurrence entirely. We were equipped with the best medication available at the time, pills of scopolamine/Dexe – drine, which we had all tried before flight in situations challenging to one’s vestibular system. For example, in aircraft ‘zero-G flights,’ which make many or even most passengers (including experienced pilots) nauseous, a ‘Scop – Dex’ capsule will usually eliminate any tendency to become sick to one’s stomach. We had a rotating chair on board Skylab, tested preflight many times. Anyone with a normal vestibular system is essentially guaranteed to vomit when exaggerated head movement coupled with rapid chair rotation is continued for ten or fifteen minutes!”
Lousma had the most immediate problem with nausea, followed by Garriott, and then Bean. The crew was supposed to begin promptly the process of reactivating Skylab after its period of dormancy following the first crew’s departure, but the symptoms they were experiencing made getting much done quickly a daunting prospect.
“I started not feeling good when I took my suit off in the Command Module,” Lousma said. “We didn’t take any medications before we left because we didn’t want to slow our reactions, and I didn’t expect to feel bad. But when I took off my suit, I started not to feel so good. When I got into the space station, the Skylab, I didn’t feel any worse until I really started moving around. But when I started to work, and getting things unstowed and set up, then I started feeling like my ‘gyros’ were going around and around. I thought, ‘If it’s going to be like this for two months, it’s going to be a long two months!’ ”
The problem, Lousma added, got worse the more he moved around but would abate somewhat when he rested. “I think probably the best cure was to recover to the point where you don’t feel so bad and then strike out again until you did. Every time you could last a bit longer before you had a problem with it. For about two days, I felt just a little bit of vertigo. But I continually improved. I think the thing that was most debilitating was, because I didn’t feel good, I stopped eating for a while. I just didn’t feel like eating. So I think I got behind the power curve in terms of energy—just didn’t have enough nourishment—and it took a little time to build that back up.”
The mission commander’s experience was much the same. “We all got kind of upset stomachs to different degrees,” Bean recalled. “If I would be still, then it would gradually go away. But then I wouldn’t be doing any work. So my feeling was, if I would stay still, then I felt okay, but you couldn’t activate the workshop that way. I would work as much as I could, and when I’d zoom around and unpack, pretty soon I’d start feeling an upset stomach. So I’d just have to slow down. It just took a lot longer. I never did vomit, but if I’d kept going, I would have.”
Bean also recalled that not only did the symptoms slow work down but they made the thought of eating unappealing. Since the crew was going to have to eat, doctors on the ground recommended that they try eating four or five smaller meals a day to see if it would be easier to get through their daily menu with it divided up into smaller portions. Bean was disappointed at the prospect of a work pace already slowed by nausea being further reduced by having to stop frequently for meals. “I kept wondering if the nausea was going to be like this for the whole fifty-six days,” he said. “I kept thinking, we can do it but it’s sure going to slow down what we want to do. We had all these plans of activating the workshop real quick and getting right to productive experimental work. We wanted to be the best we could be as a team, and so this was distressing, and yet, that’s the best we could do.”
Lousma recalled, “We all kind of helped the other guy out, and I was probably the guy that needed more help than anybody. But we worked together to do the things we needed to do to get situated. And sure enough, after about five days we got well, and we could just zip around and do our jobs and everything.”
The problem kept the crew from getting the start they would have liked on their work, but it did not affect their relationship with Mission Control.
“We were also honest with the ground,” Bean noted, “even though it was a little embarrassing; we thought of ourselves as a ‘right stuff’ crew, and ‘right stuff’ astronauts don’t get sick! Later, when our flight was over, we proved that ‘right stuff’ crews can get sick, provided they find a way to overcome it and perform well before they come back to Earth.”
In addition to their vestibular concerns, the crewmen noticed other physiological changes, including some involving bodily functions of considerable interest to elementary school children, judging by their inevitable questions to astronaut speakers about these matters. “Of course, in reality, everyone has these questions in mind, but it is only the uninhibited children who bring up the issue immediately,” Garriott noted.
We are farting a lot but not belching much —Joe Kerwin said we would have to learn to handle lots of gas.
Got to stop responding to ground so fast and just dropping what I am doing— causes us to run behind on the time line. Do not know just what to do about this. . . .
Still losing a lot of things, too big a hurry. Wish the flight planners would let up. The time taken to trouble shoot the condensate system shoots this whole timeline. Got to stay on schedule.
The intestinal gas issue was not a direct effect of spaceflight itself as it was also encountered by the smeat crew on Earth. The cause is more likely that the human body generates a certain mass of gas depending on one’s diet, and in a low pressure environment (5 psi in Skylab and smeat versus 14.7 psi on Earth at sea level), the gas expands to about triple its normal volume.
On MD-y everyone improving but still slow & inefficient. Incidentally, we have all been working from 0800 till 2200—2400, with almost no breaks. Only a few minutes devoted to looking out window (Fantastic —Gulf of Mex, Hou <—> Yucatan; Pacific Coast, Hawaiian Isl, Mediterranean], etc!) Believe we each had 2 Scop-Dex. Seemed comfortable, except at meals. Meals are bad for everyone. No one sick, Jack worked all day, with difficulty. eva day keeps slipping!
While the crew was able to go about most of its assigned tasks, albeit more slowly than planned during those first couple of days, changes had to be made regarding another major task — an eva that had been scheduled for Mission Day 4. “The ground controllers were most sympathetic to our problems, and we all agreed that we should slip our first eva day until we were feeling better,” Garriott said. “It could be a disaster if either of the two eva crewmen, Jack or I at first, were to vomit while outside in our pressure suits.”
Though their trip outside was delayed, the crew was gradually becoming more efficient at the work to be done inside the station and to get caught up had already started working extended hours (something that was to be a theme throughout their stay on Skylab). Still they took rare opportunities to appreciate the unique vista their accommodations accorded.
“An early surprise for me came on MD-3 when I was not yet used to the great distance to the horizon in all directions,” Garriott recalled. “We had just passed over Houston, where our homes and families were located, and I was watching out our wardroom window to see all the familiar terrain pass beneath us—the large white buildings at the Manned Spacecraft Center (appearing as small dots), the freeway to Galveston, Clear Lake where the whole family enjoyed (sometimes!) small boat sailing races. It all was past my view in only a few minutes, when I looked toward the top of the wardroom window and there was an island in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico! But there are no large islands in the Gulf! I immediately realized that my field of view extended all the way from Houston to Yucatan, the ‘island’ I was now viewing.”
Supposed to be a day off, altho MD-3 was too. No one took Scop-Dex. Al & I very near normal, Jack much improved. We all went thru m-ijiprotocol [experiment on metabolic activity] on bike, w/o instrumentation & no bike mods. I did 30 head movements of131 type [vestibular function experiment], w/ no effects. Believe my vestibular system nearly adapted after ~j2 hrs, certainly almost so. Appetite improved, but still not good. Had to force down a filet tonight. Whew! Paul B. [flight physician Dr. Paul Buchanan] hadgood news for later meals—eat what/when we want.
As the ground-based pi s (principal investigators) wanted all the vomit and fecal material to be returned for postflight analysis, it was all placed in sterile bags and inserted into a specially designed pressure-tight enclosure that could be both warmed and vented to a vacuum. In this way all water
was evaporated in a few hours, leaving a dry and easily managed residue for return to the ground.
Jack was taking a cooked fecal bag out of the dryer— laughing— here is a real nice ripe one. I said, bet you are a goodpizza cook. No, said Jack, pancakes. We had too many fecals and vomitus bags to cook—
We’re in extremely high spirits today, first day we allfeel good. Owen said that today we ought to ask for a reduction in our insurance rates because we were no longer running the risk of drowning or auto accident.
The crew had run the lbnp (lower body negative pressure) experiment on Day 5, which subjected their bodies to stress similar to what would be expected when standing erect back on Earth, and all did pretty well. Now that everyone was feeling better, it was time to reschedule the spacewalk. Day 6 seemed about right, and plans were set in motion. Those plans, however, fell through when the second thruster leak was discovered. As the crew and the ground worked to determine the cause and implications of the second thruster failure, the eva was once again delayed, this time until Day 10. In the meantime, life and work on Skylab continued.
Yesterday we all felt perfectly fine. Fully adapted & enjoying 0g Appetites improving but not up to normal, and “weights" (or, more accurately, body mass) stable for several days.
Their vestibular problems were far enough in the past that the crewmembers were enjoying the experience of weightlessness. They were also working to get caught up after having fallen behind schedule during their days of malaise, undertaking all of the tasks they were able to do. The crew could accomplish all the medical experiments and Earth resources protocols, but the solar physics agenda was greatly constrained because most of the cameras required film that could only be replaced by eva.
“On md-9, we accomplished two of the Earth resources operations,” Garriott said, “which was kind of a big deal because it required a major change of Skylab’s attitude in space. The whole station was reoriented with use of the large control moment gyros and pointed toward the Earth instead of
33. Garriott exercises with the cycle ergometer.
the sun. We worked these experiments early, since we still had no film in the solar cameras.”
Left sal [Scientific Airlock] vent open last night after water dump. Thought I was so good at it, did not use check list—fooled because this was first night without experiment in sal. [Skylab featured two Scientific Airlocks, which allowed small experiments to be exposed to vacuum outside the spacecraft. One, on the “sun-side” of the station, was used for the sun-shield parasol, and couldn’t be used for experiments the rest of the mission. The other, on the opposite side of Skylab, could still be used.]
Owen let Arabella out of the vial. She had been in there since days prior to launch. She had not come out so Owen got the vial off the cage, opened the door, shook her out where she immediately bounced back andforth, front to back, four or five times, then locked onto screen panels at the box edge provided for visu – alization-there she sits clutching the screen. Owen and I talked of giving spider food because she has not moved one halfday. Owen said “no” because when she gets hungry is when she spins her web. She can live two-three weeks without if she has to.
First back-to-back erep. Jack [looked for] Lake Michigan. But got Baltimore instead. Or Washington, his prime site.
Saw what we thought was a salt flat but turned out to be a glacier in Chile. We could see Cape Horn—Cape Horn and Good Hope all in one day, fantastic.
Owen wanted to know if we had tried to urinate upside-down in the head [the waste management compartment]. He said it is psychologically tough. Jack said he tried it and he peed right in his eye.
Diving thru workshop different than in water— here the speed that you move (translate) is controlled entirely by your push off so for some spins or flips, you can have a V2, 1У2, 2 V2, 3 V2, etc. body rotations. Difficult to push off straight and to get spins you want. You must watch your progress as you spin—it’s tough to learn but to keep from hitting objects, it’s a must.
It was a great day —first back to back erep and it came off perfect. Jack and Owen good spirits for eva tomorrow—we worked all afternoon and evening on prep, much more fun than on Earth in ig.
Owen worked 22 hours today because he counted his sleep cap time. Every day is filled with memorable experiences—sights, sounds, emotions, hope, fear, courage, friendship. I just wish we could go home to our wives at night.
My urine volume lower than Owen and Jack. Been drinking a lot but must do better. Been concentrating on eating too much. Owen said meals were the high point of a day on Earth and here too. Only difference is there it’s the start, up here it’s when you finish.
I cut a hole in the bottom of my sleeping bag near the feet — too hot, had to tie a knot to keep from freezing in the early morning.
Heard about leak in am [Airlock Module] primary and secondary cooling loop. Pri should last ij days and secondary 60 days. Wondering what ingenious fix they will come up with [on the ground].
No csm master alarm today. Almost a “no mistake"day.
Arabella and Anita became well-known names in 1973. The public was enthralled by the two “cross spiders” prepared for spaceflight by a high- school student in Massachusetts, Judith Miles. “Fortunately, ‘cross’ refers to a large mark on their backs, and not to their disposition,” Garriott remarked. Miles proposed an experiment to study their method of web formation in weightlessness, which is a clue to their mental activity as they adapted to the microgravity environment. Arabella was released into her fully enclosed box from the small metal container about the size of one’s thumb. Her initial webs were very scruffy-looking, but every day they improved after she consumed the last one and spun a new one. The webs finally ended up looking
every bit as good as they would in an Earthly garden. Despite Bean’s concerns, the spiders remained healthy, and after about three weeks Arabella was returned to her container and Anita released. She proceeded to exhibit the same behavior as Arabella, even after being cooped up in that small container for about a month.
“I remember when we got Arabella out,” Lousma said. “This was Owen’s job; he’s the scientist. We hooked up this box with this open door. He said, ‘Hey, Jack, how about helping me get this spider.’ So we got the spider out. And it didn’t know where it was, the poor spider. Finally, she figures out she can stick herself on something and somehow fasten herself.”
Arabella and Anita captured the public’s fancy, and Lousma, who gave the public a look at Skylab with his televised tours, admits feeling a bit of jealousy at the time over the spiders’ status as spaceflight superstars. “It really disappointed me a little bit that on the ground the general public got more insight into what was happening with Arabella than what we were doing.”
The two spiders were the subject of a “gotcha” the second crew considered leaving for their Skylab successors. They had a large (fake) spider and web to place over the docking adapter hatch when they left. Unfortunately they mistakenly thought it had been left on Earth and didn’t set it up.
Around this time Harriott began to get calls from the solar science team on the ground about one somewhat obscure item he had not yet completed. The first mission had found that the xuv monitor, which enabled them to see the sun in extreme ultraviolet (xuv) light, had extremely low sensitivity, and the TV display was so faint as to be useless. So the ground developed a small conical light shield that the operator could place over the TV display and peek through the small hole at the apex of the cone. “Even this was still too dim,” Harriott said, “so we were provided with a recent technological marvel called a Polaroid camera! When the camera shutter is opened, it remains open until enough light has been passed through to properly expose the film. So this was ideal for us—we mounted the camera at the cone apex looking down on the TV image. When enough light had been accumulated, the shutter closed automatically and the camera developed the print. As you probably remember, it then went ‘bzzz’ and delivered the print out the bottom of the camera.
“Every day they asked if the xuv monitor camera had yet been installed and operated. ‘No, not yet, but I’ll get to it soon,’ I replied. After three or four days, it became clear they were really interested in how it was going to work, so I took time to set up the conical cover and the camera. When complete,
34- While their early efforts indicated trouble adapting, the spiders were quickly able to spin webs that appeared as they would have on Earth.
including the preinstalled first film pack, I thought I should check out the camera operation before trying it on the sun. As Jack floated into view, I snapped a quick photo, followed by the ‘bzzz’ and out came the developed print—of a recent Playboy centerfold! All ten sheets of that first package were similarly pre-exposed and we all had a great laugh. But we never said anything to the ground about it until they made their next inquiry about the camera. I then reported that ‘Yes, the camera operation was normal and providing quite interesting photos.’ That was all that was ever mentioned inflight, and only on the ground two months later did we congratulate Paul Patterson on the Naval Research Laboratory solar physics team for his creative ‘gotcha’ and amusing surprise.”
eva day. I had a tough time sleeping, ok for first 6 hours or so then off and on —finally writing at normal wake up time, iiooZ (0600 Houston) because they let us sleep late. Bed is great. I am going to patent it when I get home. The bungee straps and netting for the head and the pillows were my idea. Might come in use someday because no other simple way to make og feel like Earth.
Jack sleeps next to me then Owen at end— the reason, his sleep cap equipment fits better.
Funny how good we feel now, I think [at the beginning ofthe mission] we all
would have said “to hell with this, let’s go home”. No one ever said it in words but that was the way we all looked at each other around day 2 and 3.
Sleeping is different here because the “bed clothes” do not tend to restrain or touch your body. This causes large air space about your body, that your body heat doesn’t hold. It’s difficult to snuggle down. Have to put undershirts (long) and t-shirt on during the night. I cut feet out of the long handles then use them for pajamas. Also I mod’ed [modified] my bed by cutting a hole in the netting near the feet, too cold at night so close it up with a knot.
Little worried, Funny —Owen’s PCU [Pressure Control Unit] is #013 and his umbilical is #13. I’m not superstitious, but. . .
Started taking food pill supplements today. Kit is junkie’s paradise.
Jack discovered new way to shake urine collection bags to minimize bubbles. I called ground and said, “we even have our professionals — Owen atm checkout, me condensate dump, Jack urine shaking ”
After being delayed for nearly a week, the time for the crew’s first spacewalk finally arrived on Day 10. Jack and Owen were assigned to go outside on this first one, leaving Al inside to tend the store and assure everything went well. When the missions were originally planned, before the launch of Skylab, film replacement was to be about the only thing to be done on this spacewalk. But now the work needed to be almost doubled. The parasol that had been extended through the Scientific Airlock during the first mission to shield the workshop from the direct sunlight had been in place for over three months. Its ability to shade the workshop was beginning to deteriorate. Still aboard the station, however, was the second thermal mitigation system that had been launched with the first crew back in May, the Marshall Sail twin-pole sunshade. Installing it should again cool temperatures that were very gradually beginning to rise again as the parasol’s efficacy diminished in the sunlight.
“We had the twin-pole sunshade to deploy over the top of the parasol in addition to the film replacement,” Garriott said. “So after the film installation was first completed, I had to connect eleven five-foot sections of aluminum poles, twice, forming two long poles. These were then extended to Jack some forty or fifty feet away, where the poles were mounted in a v, and a large ‘sail’ pulled across them with nylon lines. This may have been the only ‘sail’ this Marine has ever rigged, and without a bit of wind to fill it out!”
As had been the case with the solar-array wing deployment conducted by the first crew, Skylab had not been intended to support spacewalks like this. No provisions had been made for spacewalkers to get around, save for the limited path installed to access the atm film canisters. For the work he was to be doing, Lousma had no translation aids provided to help him reach the area from which he would be installing the sunshade. Garriott remained near the Airlock Module hatch to remove the segments of the poles from their packaging, mate and lock each piece together and then extend the long poles to Lousma who had positioned himself far out on the truss structure. (Even without translation aids on Skylab’s exterior to help him reach his destination, Lousma was in no danger of floating off into space, since he was connected to Skylab by an umbilical running back to the Airlock Module.) Once he was in place where he would be doing most of the work, Lousma had a set of foot restraints designed to attach to the structure at that location and secure him in place. “You just kind of clamped them on, and you could stand there and enjoy the views,” he recalled.
After getting into position, Lousma next had to mount an adapter to the truss that featured two slots into which the long fifty-five-foot poles would be inserted. Garriott began putting the pole segments together with a standard bayonet-type connector. He fitted each segment into the next, depressed a spring, rotated the segment about twenty degrees, and latched it into place. Then a rubber ring was rolled over the fitting, securing the connection. On a later spacewalk, the crew found that this rubber locking ring had rolled back away from its connection, but the bayonet connection had been adequate to hold the segments together. When the two long poles were assembled, Garriott passed them on to Lousma, who fixed them into their slots, so that they stretched all the way to the far end of the workshop. Lousma then had to deploy the sunshade onto the poles, stretching it across the poles with long ropes or “lines,” eventually covering almost the whole workshop exposure and the old “parasol” deployed by the first crew.
While assembling the poles, Garriott encountered an unexpected problem. During the preflight testing of the sunshade equipment at the neutral buoyancy tank at Marshall, a difficult decision had been faced: whether to take the flight hardware underwater and then into space and risk corrosion and malfunction or only test it on the dry floor out of the water without the added realism that practice in neutral buoyancy would provide.
“We finally decided that for the twenty-two pole segments, a floor test without pressure-suited operation, would be adequate,” Garriott said. “This was about the only compromise made in testing under the most realistic conditions possible. Naturally, this returned to bite me in space. When I had to remove each individual rod segment from their aluminum transporting frame on which they were all mounted—manually, in a pressure suit—my ‘fat’ fingers in their thick gloves could not get under the rods to lift them against the elastic straps that held them tightly against the transporting frame! I ended up having to squat down in the pressure suit, holding the frame beneath my foot, use one hand to lift each rod upward against the surprisingly tough elastic, and then use my other hand across my body to wrench each rod from under the elastic strap. It may sound simple, but it turned out to be the most difficult physical task of the whole eva, which we might have been able to modify had we tried it all in a pressure suit on the ground. And I had to repeat all this about twenty-two times! (Send this to the ‘lessons learned’ department!)”
Lousma recalled that the neutral-buoyancy training had served him quite well. “We learned how long it took us to do each task, and I think it took us twice as long in space. That wasn’t because we weren’t prepared. It was simply because we had the time and wanted to do it right. And we worked slowly and double-checked and rechecked everything as we were doing it.”
There were all kinds of concerns that the twin poles were going to be too “whippy” because of their relatively thin diameter compared with their fifty-five-foot length, which Lousma said made them not unlike a giant fishing pole. “I wasn’t worried about that too much,” but he could tell a difference as they got longer. Lousma also encountered one unanticipated problem during the spacewalk. “The twin-pole sunshade worked very well, except for one little episode,” he remembers. “When you look at the Skylab photos the sunshade is kind of brown, but has a white streak in there.”
When the sunshade was packed for launch, it was “folded like an accordion” into a bag. However, because of the rush to get ready to fly during the ten-day period prior to the launch of the first crew, the adhesive used to attach the pieces together had not had time to cure fully before the sunshade was folded up and packed. As a result, when Lousma unpacked the sunshade in orbit and began to deploy it, the adhesive prevented it from unfolding as well as it was intended to do.
“So I had to bring that whole thing back toward myself,” he said. “It was all out of the bag and billowing up all over, and by hand I had to unfasten all of those folds. Then I had to attach the two corners that were nearest me with a long lanyard, and drift out to two places on either side of the mda to attach the lanyards. When the large sail was deployed, the twin poles were flopped down on top of the parasol and against the Skylab workshop, and the lanyards tightened. It nearly covered the workshop and worked quite well. So that was done, and I thought, end of story.
“But it turns out that I had missed one of those folds, and so it was out there like that for a long time, and getting browner and browner. Then the sun did the rest of the job and unstuck that one little piece. And so you see that white streak in there, that was the one that had remained folded for the longest time.”
Lousma estimated that the sunshade deployment took up about three hours of a six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk. In addition to the routine atm tasks and the sunshade, he and Garriott also explored the exterior of Skylab to try to gain clues as to the location of a coolant leak. The source of the mysterious leak would plague the second crew throughout their tenure on the facility. “During our inside time we also had to do quite a bit of exploration, taking some panels off,” he said. Removing the wall panels allowed access to the station’s “plumbing” but proved to be a difficult task since it was another maintenance activity that had not been anticipated preflight. Assuming that there would be no reason to detach the panels, engineers had designed them to remain firmly in place with no simple mechanism for removal. Despite their efforts, the second crew was unsuccessful in finding the source of the coolant leak. Ultimately a method was devised for the third crew to recharge the coolant supply, yet another unanticipated procedure.
The atm film exchange provided Garriott with the opportunity to do something he had been looking forward to. “One of the first things I did for fun was something I had planned before flight,” he said. “Is there anyone who has not looked over the edge of a high cliff or a tall building and felt an extra surge of emotion and adrenalin at the view? So here I stood at the front end of the atm solar telescopes to replace film, but could also look straight down a 435-kilometer (270-mile) ‘elevator shaft’ to the ground! It is a different perspective when in a pressure suit with nothing between you and a hard vacuum other than a thin, Plexiglas faceplate, as compared to looking out the window of a jet aircraft or even the wardroom window of Skylab.”
Bean made a special addendum to his diary about the spacewalk:
Jack said, being out on the sun end, was a little like Peter Pan—or that you were riding a big white horse —feet spread wide across the whole world— the Earth
35. The Marshall Sail deployed on Skylab.
is visible on both sides, at the same times and you can see 360 degrees—riding backwards.
Watching out the window as Jack worked in the dark; I could not look at him in the light as he was too close to the sun, it was fantastic to see the sunrise. It began as a light blue band which grew with a fine yellow rim near the limb—the blue gets larger then.
Just before sun up you could see flashes of light toward the horizon where thunderstorms were playing. This pinpointed the coming horizon which was not yet discernable against the dark of the Earth from within the lighted cabin.
Gold color grows in last 15 sec to change much of dark blue into bright orange. As the sun rises the Earth’s horizon slowly moves from head to toe on Jack as he is silhouetted against the blue line. It gives the feeling of going around a big planet, a big ball rather than just a disk movingfrom in front of the eye. The science fiction movie effect was fantastic.
And Garriott’s diary summed this all up with only five words: eva day — went very well.
Garriott, md-ii, 12,13:
Full atm ops. On 11, got a flare right off in ar8" Had been working that ar [active region] all orbit. Very fortunate.
MD-12, dble erep + more good atm.
md-ц, M-3 x-ray flare, well covered & then a 0-2 or-3 [a classification of intensity], all from ar8$. The last covered only by xuv Mon on vtr . Also a good s-063 [ozonephoto] w/erep in am, and s-o<;<; CalRoc successful! Vy good day, indeed.
Everyone in excellent spirits. Tomorrow is more or less “off day" but we’ll stay busy.
Can become disoriented w/ rapid spins. We all still feel some sense of up & down, related to orientation of i-g trainer & eqpt installation.
Fish orient “down" twd[toward] wall, usually and fairly quiet. But if “stirred up" a little & held in middle of room, still do outside loops, pitching down.
Fed both spiders today. Not sure if they will eat.
With the second crew’s Apollo Telescope Mount operations now well underway, the collection of instruments was producing groundbreaking results. The flares, for example, were very exciting for the crew to witness. These energetic outbursts on the sun showed up particularly strongly at ultraviolet and x-ray wavelengths visible to the observers on Skylab with their TV screens—because they were above essentially all of the Earth’s atmosphere —but not to ground observers. The ground saw the active regions (ars) in visible light and could direct the crew’s attention to promising locations on the solar disk, but unlike Earthbound astronomers the crew could see the first indications of an outburst from Skylab with ultraviolet and x-ray displays. The “CalRoc” Garriott mentioned on Day 13 was a coordinated observation of the same active region on the sun by Skylab and a rocket flight to high altitudes by the Harvard College Observatory experimenters.
The fish were part of an extra, small experiment that Garriott had asked to do well before launching, for the crew’s own interest. Arrangements were made by a veterinarian on the staff of the Houston space center, Dr. Richard C. Simmonds. The experiment included two small mummichug minnows and fifty unhatched eggs in a small plastic bag that the crew taped to a wall or bulkhead. The minnows had the strange, and quite unexpected, response to weightlessness of swimming forward but looping or pitching down. Watching the transparent eggs develop and the fry after hatching also proved interesting. Even the fry born in this weightless environment exhibited some of the same looping behavior. These observations eventually led to one scientific paper and later several more space experiments—and more scientific papers—on later Shuttle Spacelab flights.
Passed the lbnp today for the first time. Think I was too far in it and squeezed around stomach, cut off blood, will move saddle from у to 6.
Did a lot of flying about the workshop just before sleep tonight. Skill needed, but great relaxer.
Wish Owen would move Arabella. Arabella finished her web perfectly. When Owen toldJack at breakfast, Jack said “well that’s good, I like to see a spider do something at least once in a while".
My green copy ofChildhood’s End floated by. If you wait long enough, everything lost will float by. A dynamic environment no one can be stranded in center of a space because small air currents have an effect.
Tried to fly (like swimming) last night. But air currents much more dominant.
Fire and rapid Delta p drill today. Owen needs this the most but hates them the worst. I tried to stick with him and do this together, Jack goes alone — when I am distracted, Owen will be doing other things not drill related and I must get him back.
Slept better last night (upside down) because it was cooler from the twin boom sunshade.
Arabella ate her web last night and spun another perfect one.
Another good day! Houston reportedfilament lifting, got to (a Tm) panel as large loop was ~r=2.$ [extended out to a radial distance of about 2.3 solar radii]! Followed all the way out beyond R= 6. Excellent, I thought. Also made hemoglobin check (~іб-іб. у all three)… tv of Arabella, etc. Supposedly a “day off", but we made 4 atm passes, 3 s-oijops, etc. Back at it tomorrow! Also talked w/hm [Helen Mary, his wife] and family. Said flare was big news locally, w/scientists.
More than just “another good day,” Mission Day 14 was a history-making one for the Apollo Telescope Mount, which was used to capture an unprecedented image of the solar corona. One of the instruments on the atm, the White Light Coronagraph, would hide the bright face of the sun behind an “occulting” disk and image a superimposition of all of the visible light wavelengths in the corona. The sun’s very bright upper region, which is what is visible to the eye on Earth, is about one million times brighter than the faint corona, which can only be seen from the ground at the infrequent times of a total solar eclipse. On Day 14 the ground saw what appeared to be the start of a solar eruption at visible wavelengths and brought it to the attention of the crew, even though they were not manning the atm panel at the time.
“I got there in time to see what is now called a ‘coronal mass ejection,’ or cme, in progress, where the ejected material in the form of an enormous magnetic loop was moving out through the corona,” Garriott said. When he first saw the loop, its height had already reached about the width of the sun, and by its peak a few hours later, it was more than three times the sun’s diameter. “The radial extent of this giant magnetic loop could be measured on our TV screen. Then on the next orbit about ninety-three minutes later it was obviously stretched out much farther and it could be measured again. A simple calculation allowed the minimum speed of the ejection to be estimated, which turned to be about 500 kilometers per second! At that speed, it would reach the Earth in about three days. As far as I know this is the first visual observation of this phenomenon ever made.” Since coronal mass ejections can have a noticeable impact on Earth when they reach our planet, the groundwork laid on Day 14 toward better understanding them has had lasting benefits.
Garriott recalled getting immediate feedback on the day’s events during a phone call with his wife. “I had a telephone visit with the family at our home in Nassau Bay,” he said. “The wives brought us up to date on local news; for example, they told us that the TV reports and the solar scientists comments seem quite enthused about the ‘flare’ observations. It was our pipeline to the ‘real world!’ ”
Measured hemoglobin levels on all three crewmen had reached the upper end of normal, which Garriott suggested might have been due to the loss of water in weightlessness and a reduced total blood volume in circulation. Bean said that during his time on Skylab, he had to make a conscious effort
to avoid becoming dehydrated. “The thing that I noticed for myself is, I had to make myself drink water,” he said, “because I wasn’t thirsty then. And the next day I would have less energy. My urine volume would be low, and it finally dawned on me that I was getting dehydrated because I just wasn’t thirsty. So it got to where every time I came near the table, I’d take a drink even when I didn’t want it. And that helped. But I would fall back. After about four or five days of drinking water, maybe the fifth day I would not do it so much; I’d get complacent. Then I’d notice the sixth day that I got tired early, and then I would remember my low urine volume that morning. So I remember that as being a continual problem for me.”
In fact, Bean said during the entire mission, he had to make a conscious effort to stay in good shape and not allow his desire for productivity push him past the point of exhaustion. “Every day I remember trying to do as much as we could that day without hurting the next day,” he said. “I’d say to myself sometimes, ‘Uh oh, I worked too long,’ I was on the edge of fatigue each day at the end of the day. And if I didn’t get the sleep and food and water I needed, then I’d be fatigued the next day. I always felt like I was right on the edge, and I had to be really careful to keep myself healthy in order to do the next day the best I could, and feel really good all the next day, and be in a good mood. People get in a bad mood, I think, if they get tired and fall behind. We had good relations with Mission Control. In fact, our relations with Mission Control were great except when we wanted more work and couldn’t get them to schedule it for us.”
Day off—we had mixed emotions. We were tired and needed rest yet our chance to do good work was almost one-fourth over. When each flight hour represents 13-14 Earth training hours then you can make (up for) a lot of pre-flight effort with a little extra in flight effort. We did however do some atm and some soip. We ask for extra. Plus housekeeping. Wipe, dry biocide wipe, the place is immaculate and not a predatory germ within miles, much less traveling at 18,000 mph.
Got a thrill today. Tried to put out a urine bag [through the Trash Airlock] with the end filter for the head in it in addition to three urine bags. It would not eject. I tried to close the doors and breathed a real sigh of relief as it came closed. I removed the filter from the bag and tried again, this time it moved 1” or so then stuck. I tried to close the door but this time it would not. My heart was beatingfast. Could this be happening to us. Could we not have a way to get rid of our garbage? I tried the ejection handle again, and no luck, the door was stuck. Finally the only way was to force it. I tapped it again and again at first no success, but finally a little at a time she broke free. The heart still beat fast but maybe a lesson was learned. Why did they not build the lock as an inverted cone so whatever was in there could always be moved down the ever expanding diameter.
Owen did the spider TV three times. Once because he recorded it on channel a, once because the TV switch was in the atm and not ows position, the last time it was okay. He got behind and I did some of his housekeeping as he was still up when Jack and I were headed for bed. Jack said “Owen, do you have anything left I can help you with". Owen said “no". But that’s the way Jack is.
Notice we do not seem to reflex to catch something when we drop it as we did the first few days. It’s enjoyable to just let a heavy object float nearby.
Things beginning to ease up just a little. We’re considerably more efficient and flight plan may be a little less tight. Al now asking for more work (!)… All feeling excellent. Al doing lots of acrobatics (he’s good). Jack is walking around on the “ceiling”
Garriott was not the only one to feel that the crew was beginning to hit its stride around this time. Being as productive as possible had been one of Bean’s foremost goals for his crew from the outset, and the limitations they had faced early on had been a disappointment to him. He and the others had been working all during the mission to become more efficient, and around this time, they could tell they were getting close to the mark.
“We were in there working as best we could; and we were following the flight plan accurately; we were following our checklist, and as a result we were getting a lot of things done,” Bean said. “I felt like it took us until around Day 16 to really be as efficient as we ever could be. That was my feeling, and also looking at the data later on. We began to be pretty good at it.”
“So we sat down and had a crew meeting and decided that we needed to have an inventory from the ground as to where we were and what we had to do to catch up,” added Lousma.
Bean recalled: “Maybe at a third of the way through, or a fourth of the way through, we called the ground and asked how we were doing. I knew we’d fallen behind because of being sick, and I thought maybe they’d tell us we’d done 90 percent so far of what we should be doing. And they told
us we’d done 50 percent, 60 percent, something shocking. Well we knew we weren’t going to go back to Earth doing 50 percent. They will have to shoot us down because we aren’t going back till we’ve done the best we can do. We were going to find a way, and that’s kind of when we decided we were going to have to do things differently because we had to catch up, at least we all thought so. So we began to try to be more efficient. You know, we thought we were being efficient, but this motivated us to become more so.”
Every possible step was taken to increase efficiency. The crew stopped eating all of their meals together, so that two crewmembers could be working at all times. As soon as the crew woke up, someone would begin manning the atm station while the others went about their morning routine. Bean said that not long afterwards he realized that Garriott was the best of the three at manning the atm console, so he and Lousma began swapping duties with Garriott so that he could man the atm more.
The crew, and Bean in particular, began working to move items to and from storage during the day to reduce the amount of time that had to be spent on housekeeping. “We were working as much as we could,” Bean said. “We were really hustling around.” Finally, the crew reached a level of efficiency such that they were getting all of the work done that they had scheduled on a given day. But, having gotten behind at the outset, simply reaching 100 percent efficiency was not enough for Bean. “We began to try to get housekeeping done before it was scheduled, so we could say to them, ‘We’ve already got the trash thrown for tomorrow, we’ve already got the food moved, go ahead and put us on the atm,’ ” he said. “As I remember, we had to convince them to give us more work. We were ahead, and then they would call up and they wouldn’t have anything new the next day, and we would be twiddling thumbs. We were ready to go, but they hadn’t geared up for us yet. I remember us talking with them for about two or three days before Mission Control finally said, ‘ok, let’s give them a lot more work.’
“We then got going, and so we were just zipping around there as good as we could from wake up till rest before sleep. Because you can’t just stop working and go to sleep, we knew that you had to kind of take thirty minutes or an hour,” Bean said. “We were working all the time, except Sundays. Then we began to work Sundays after a while, because there wasn’t a damn thing to do, at least I felt that way. What are we going to do, sit around and just look? Not likely! We had trained hard for two and a half years, and we are going to make the most of our limited days, only fifty-six, in space. At least as much as we could. So we got going!”
Before long, the ground had to work to keep up with the crew. As Lous – ma recalled: “We got so good at what we were doing that it took so much less time than they had anticipated that we asked for more work, and that’s where they devised the Earth observations experiments: ‘Can you see this; can you see that; what can you see physically or visually from space?’ We would photograph those places and report on them. Every mission after that—I don’t know if they do it anymore, but Shuttle missions had Earth observations briefings and some special things to look for. So that was all derived as a result of our mission. They also jury-rigged some additional experiments using hardware that we had on board. They had some kind of experiment that had to do with transfer of fluids; it was not one we had planned to do. The point is they gave us extra work to do and things that we hadn’t planned on doing, so we actually ended up with more experiments than we started with.”
A major thing the crew had going for them, Lousma believes, was how well they got along. “I think our crew was somewhat remarkable in that we were such good friends,” he said. “We trained for two and a half years, and I don’t ever remember a cross word. I don’t remember one during the mission, or since.”
Even as the crew was becoming more efficient at their work, they were also becoming more efficient at their play. After over two weeks in weightlessness, the astronauts had become acclimatized to the unique acrobatics that microgravity allowed. “For an unusual experience, one could walk around upside-down on the ceiling of the laboratory area,” Garriott said. “It was fun to play ‘Spider-Man’ and walk around on the ceiling or elsewhere.”
While the entire crew had gotten their “space legs” by this point, it was Bean whose microgravity maneuvering was the most impressive. “I was amazed at how proficiently Al performed flips, twists, and other acrobatics while jogging around the ring of lockers in the ows,” Garriott said. “While Jack and I looked every bit the novices we were, only after inquiring did I find out that Al had been a gymnast in college! If only we could submit video instead of personal appearances, we might have had a shot at the next Olympics.”
The long straight layout of the pressurized volume of Skylab was the basis
of another amusement for the crew. “Another challenge,” Garriott said, “was to launch oneself at modest speed all the way from the bottom of the living and experiment deck and try to pass through the ows, the Airlock Module, the mda, and reach the csm without touching anything—a floating distance of some fifty feet with narrow hatches between each module. With practice we could all do it—sometimes.”
Had a thriller, was writing in my book when caution tone then warning tone came on —Jack in the toilet—Owen and I soared up and found cluster att [attitude] warning lt [light] and acs [attitude control system light] on. We looked at the atm panel and found much Tacs firing andx gyro single, ygyro okay, z gyro single. A quick look at the atm panel showed multiple Tacs firings. Both Owen and I were excited, it had been some time since we practiced these failures, plus we are in a complicated rate gyro configuration—we both really were looking at all things at once—das [data acquisition system] commands, status words, rt[rate]gyro talk backs, momentum and cmg wheel position readouts. We elected to go a TT hold but Tacs keptfiring, so we then turned off the Ta cs, looked at each rate gyro and set the best one back on the line. We would have gone to the csm but with our quad problems that would be a true last resort. No, we had to solve it right then. We put the rate gyros back into configuration then enabled Tacs, then did a nominal momentum cage — this seemed to make the system happy — namely Tacs quit firing. Owen and I had settled down by then and were solving the problem again and again to insure we have not forgotten any step. We came into daylight— were only two degrees or so off in x and y so went to S. I. [solar inertial]— maneuvered too slow so we set in a five sec maneuver time and selected S. I. again—Houston came up and I gave them a brief rundown — Owen, never giving up time, started my atm run for me while I went down for dessert of peaches and ice cream.
erep passed today, Jack got four targets, we then had an erep cal [calibration] pass taking specific data on the full moon—all three of us working well together, we have trained a long time for this chance and we want to make the most of it.
Jack made a suggestion to walk on the ceiling as the floor for a few minutes —we did and in less than a minute it seemed like the floor although covered with lights, wiring runs and trays. Our home seemed like a new place—cluttered but nice — the bicycle hung overhead and was different as was the wardroom table but many lockers and stowage spaces were much easier to see and reach—I might use this technique to advantage when hunting a missing item or looking in a locker drawer.
Had to ask Capcom, Story Musgrave, to give us more work today and also tomorrow—we are getting in the swing— when you’re hot, you’re hot. We will have about 44 more days to do all the things we were trained to do for the last 2 V2—4 years — time is going fast and we must make the most use of it. Most of what we learned will have no application after Skylab—such as how to operate specific experiments, systems, where things are stored, experiment protocol, how to operate the atm, erep, etc.
The gyroscopes that allowed Skylab to maintain its attitude proved to be an occasional hassle. One failure of the gyros was particularly memorable for Bean, who committed a rare violation of procedure in the heat of the moment: “I remember the time we lost attitude hold. The alarm went off, maybe even in the night; I don’t even remember when it was. We had a procedure if it did, and I can remember not following that procedure. It’s one of those deals where you make [someone else] follow the procedure, but when you’re there, you don’t have to do it.”
Rather than trying to regain attitude control with the control moment gyros, Bean opted for the more immediate method of using the TACS thrusters, which had a limited, and unreplenishable, supply of cold gas, a large amount of which had been expended in the barbecue rolls before the arrival of the first crew. “I can remember not following the procedure and wasting some of the gas, wasting some of that to ‘zero out’ the rate gyros, instead of doing other things,” he said. “I can remember the ground didn’t say anything. Then later, about a day later, they came up with a new procedure, ‘just in case,’ which really was the same procedure, except, ‘Why would you guys do what you did?’
“At the time I threw that switch, I knew it was the wrong thing to do. It was too late then. It didn’t even seem right then, it just seemed like the expedient thing. We solved the problem quickly that way. But it wasn’t a good thing to do. I can remember me throwing that switch and thinking at the time it was a bad idea.”
Had bad experience today, sneezed while urinating— bad on Earth—disaster up here.
Did 10-15 minutes on dome lockers. Handsprings, dives, twists, can do things that no one on Earth can do —fantastic fun and I guess good limbering up exercises for riding the bike.
I went up and looked out of the mda windows that faced the sun, but at night. What an incredible sight, a full moon, Paris, Luxemburg, Prague, Bern, Milan, Turin all visible and beautiful wheels of light and sweeping under the white crossed solar panel of the atm. Normally you cannot look out these windows because of the sun’s glare, I could not watch Jack and Owen on their eva. Now we are over the Bay of Bengal. In just 16 minutes we swept over Europe and Eastern Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and finally over India. Too cloudy to see Ceylon [Sri Lanka]. Sumatra and Java will be here soon. We repeat our ground track every 5 days but 5 days from now as we go over the same point of ground the local time there changes so that in 60 days we will have seen allpoints between 50N and 50s at 12 different times of the day and night. At least once we can watch Parisians [Paris residents] getting up, having breakfast—
Owen and I spent his first night in ij days just looking out the window during a night pass. We came over places that aren’t our erep targets, the Dardanelles were visible, then he pointed out the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee—I said I had been as high as anyone on Earth and had visited the lowest point on Earth, the Dead Sea, last year. Owen talked ofthe night air glow—the fine white layer about a pencils width above the surface of the Earth.
We had looked last night for Perseid meteor shower with them burning up below us. Did not see any during soip — to hit the atmosphere, to make a shooting star, they all fly past us—with no meteoroid shield, hope we do not contact any one of them.
Fixed my sleeping bag today, safety pinned on two top blankets and took up slack in blankets—too much volume of air to warm at night. Have been waking either around 1 to 2 hours prior to 6o’clock [normal wake-up time]. Houston time and having difficulty going back to sleep. Maybe this will help, sleeping upside down has helped, the cooler ows as a result ofthe twin pole sunshade deployment is perhaps the greatest contributor.
Normal morning sequence is wake up call from Houston, I get up fast, take down water gun reading, then put on shirt and shorts for weighing. Take book up and weigh while Jack gets teleprinter pads and Owen reads plan. I weigh, Owen weighs, then Jack. I fix breakfast after dressing, with Owen a little behind.
Jack cleans up, shaves, does urine and fixes bag and sample for three of us, I finish eating as Jack comes in and I then clean, shave and sample urine, I’m off to work at first job as Owen goes to the waste compartment. Jack is eating and about 30 minutes later we all are at work.
A sudden realization hit me this afternoon—there is no more work for us to do —atm is about it. Except for more medical or more studen t experiments what a sad state ofaffairs with this space station up here and not enough work to do.
We could think up some good TV productions getting 5000 watt-min of exercise per day and that should be enough.
Boy oh boy have I been farting today. You must learn to handle more gas up here and I wondered if we wouldforget when we went home. Owen said can’t you just see Jack in his living room with all his family and friends around and he forgets.
I am so glad that Owen and Jack and I are on the same crew. Our personalities fit one another well—Jack always working, always positive, always happy — Owen always serious, well maybe not always.
Owen looks funny lately as he has not trimmed his mustache hair nor shaved under his neck too well— our little windup shaver and the poor bathroom light being the problem. I don’t look too great either, my hair getting long, wonder if “O ” or Jack will cut it on our day off
Owen got his ego bent last night. He had been conscientious about weight loss, wanting more food, and salt—peanuts are a favorite, Dr. Paul Buchanan called on his weekly conference and told Owen, [that] Jack and I were doing okay but he needed to have a chat with him [Owen]. Paul said, Owen, we have been looking at your exercise data over the last two days and don’t think you are doing enough, maybe your heart isn’t in it—Owen about flipped because he takes great pride in his physical program pound for pound he does more than Jack and I. He could hardly hold back, afterward he worked out till sweat was all over his body, then called on the recorder to tell Paul and those other doctors the facts of the matter. Maddest I’ve seen him in months. [Garriott explained that it turned out the ground had not yet read the data off the recorder, and the issue was smoothed out later.]
As Bean noted, the sleeping bag modification referenced at the beginning of this entry was the second major mod he made to his “bed.” The sleeping quarters were designed in such a way that an air vent would cause air to flow from the feet to the head when a crewmember was sleeping in the bed.
Bean found it difficult to sleep in that configuration and unstrapped the cot from the “vertical” bulkhead where it was mounted and inverted it so that he was sleeping “upside-down” compared to the other two astronauts. Garriott noted that while Bean’s modification to invert his cot worked fine on Skylab, where each crewmember had his own “bedroom,” it could have been more problematic if the station had been designed with the three sharing one larger area since it could be disconcerting to carry on a conversation for any length of time with someone in a different body orientation.
Near his upside-down bed, Bean kept a sign posted on the inside of a locker door, which he made a point to read at the start and end of each day, and which thirty years later he still says was an important part of his life on Skylab.
A man is what he thinks about all day. “The only time I live, the only time I can do anything, the only time I can be anyone is right now.
Each hour we have in flight is the culmination of approximately 12 to 13 preflight hours (1У2 days). These hours well spent are our only tangible product for literally years of work and preparation.
Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.
Did we enjoy today.
Ask for questions.
Importance of the individual.
Write in my crew log.
Not enough to do today! Al doing most of HK [housekeeping tasks]. Mentioned to Al— he agreed— that often when “sitting" still with eyes closed, there is an apparent sense of motion. Sort ofslow vibration (2 or 3 second oscillation), back and forth… Maybe body is actually perturbed slightly by air draft, but I think not. Does seem to be a vestibular “false motion."
Brightflashes occasionally. Always dark adapted. Believe have seen with eyes open. Usually spots, not necessarily pin-points. Occasionally a longer streak. Only one eye at a time.
The odd body oscillation Garriott noted he later determined was probably real motion caused by each stroke of the heart pushing arterial blood out through the body. The crew’s vestibular systems were probably unusually
З6. Bean reading in his bed on the wall of his sleep compartment.
sensitive to any body motion as the large gravitational acceleration could not be sensed in free fall.
The bright flashes of light were explained later as passage of an energetic particle through the retina creating a flash that the crew could see. It almost always seemed to occur when Skylab was near the South Atlantic Anomaly where the Earth’s magnetic field is a bit weaker than at most locations, and trapped energetic particles can dip down to lower altitudes like that at which Skylab orbited. The phenomenon was not isolated to Skylab—oth – er astronauts since have also reported seeing bright flashes while crossing through the anomaly.
We have been trying to get the flt [flight]planning changed. I especially have
had a lot of free time, Owen and Jack to a lesser degree. Jack keeps on the move all the time, Owen has a long list of useful work that he brought along, things that other scientists have suggested, worthwhile. How do I accomplish this feat of us producing our maximum without infringing on Owen’s time. He deserves some amount per day to do with as he chooses.
In a way space flight is rewarding but on a day to day it is awfully frustrating. Jack today spent whole night pass takingstar/moon andstar/horizon sightings on his own time to satisfy an experiment. When the pass was over, 20 marks made, he was debriefing and as he was talking he said, well, I did those sightings with the clear window protector still on. He had not noticed it in the dark. The data would be off by some small amount and that just didn’t suit Jack. He told the experimenter on record that he would repeat them later.
Teleprinter message: To Bean, Garriott and Lousma
We have been watching and listening as the three of you live and work in space. Your performance has been outstanding and the observations that you are making are of tremendous importance. Through your efforts Skylab 3 is a great mission.
Keep up the good work.
Jim Fletcher [nasa Administrator]
George Low [nasa Deputy Administrator]
Received this today. Why do they not send something similar when we are not doing too well, like days 2-4. We appreciated this but just wondering not only about them but about myself.
Went to bed on time, do not feel as energetic as usual so feel something was coming on. Sleep is the best thing to repair me, it always works on Earth.
Our first real day off Best news was in the morning science report where it said we would catch up with all our atm science as well as the corollary experiments except for medical which was reduced by 24 hours the first half of the mission, we would do the rest—I called and discussed the additional blood work, histology and urine analysis [specific gravity] that Owen had been doing and wanting them to count that.
We did housekeeping a bunch and had to plan two tv spectaculars. Since we have a Tm all day we had to schedule it in the 30 min night time crew rest. Hair cut next, then acrobatics, then shower. Lots of planning for 3 ten min shows but think the folks in the old USA will enjoy.
The shower was cooler than I like it— the biggest surprise was how the water clung to my body—a little like jello in that it doesn’t want to shake off It built up around the eyes, in the nose and mouth (the crevices) and it gave a slight feeling oftrying to breathe underwater— would shake the head violently and the water would drop away (not down but in all directions) some to cling to other parts of my body, some to the shower curtain, some sort of distended the water where they were and snapped back. The soap on the face stayed and diluted with rinse water tasted sour when I opened my mouth. The little vacuum has sufficient pull but is rigid and will not conform to the body—so does not do too well there, but is okay on the inside walls, floor and ceiling. Jack had said it was better to slide my hands over my body and to scrape the water offand over to the shower wall. This worked for hair, arms, legs, but difficult for my body especially back — two towels were required to dry off because the water did not drain.
Flew T 020 for the first time. Jack as usual had the dirty work but was trying harder because of his error yesterday. The work was slow and tedious because it was the first time around and because the strap design was poor.
Jack said ‘I’ve done some pretty dumb things in my life but I never got killed doing it— in this business that is saying a lot’—
Owen said “now the dumbest thing I can remember was flying out to the (solar) observatory near Holloman, nm—short hop so I decided to do it at 18,000 ft— as I neared there I started letting down, called approach control— we talked and as I descended their communications faded out—I kept thinking why should they fade out— it suddenly dawned, shielded behind mountains —full power and a rapid climb in the dark saved my ass—I think of the incident several times every month over the last three years. ”
Garriott recalled, “I thought I had never mentioned this to anyone, anywhere, since it was such a dumb thing to do. I had forgotten about this one time in Skylab. I had worked all day on atm things in Boulder, Colorado, that day, then drove to Buckley Field in Denver, to fly solo by T-38 to Holloman afb and work the next day at the solar observatory in Cloudcroft. A beautiful clear night, stars but no moon. When I heard approach control at the airport, I started down. dumb! When their voices started breaking up and then faded out, I asked myself why. When realization came quickly —mountains!—it was maximum power (burner) and steep climb until I heard their radio transmissions again with no further problems. I have continued to think about this incident frequently for the next thirty-five years, but it is so embarrassing that I have never admitted it to anyone — except on this one Skylab occasion!”
Bean’s diary for that day continues:
Jack was saying that when we got back he and Owen might be considered regular astronauts — Owen laughed— it was beyond his wildest dreams to be classed as a real astronaut.
Been wishing Owen and I had taken pictures of the Israel area the first time we stayed awake to see it—I want to give pictures of this region to some of my religious friends.
Jack’s having his ice cream and strawberries. Jack’s food shelves when we transfer a 6 day food supply are almost full of big cans plus a few small— Owen and I have halffull shelves with more or less equal amounts of small and large cans —Jack really puts down the chow.
All are in a good mood, morale is high in spite of all the hard work, we are getting the job done.
MD-24 A tough, tough day. Worked almost all day on trying to find the leak in the condensate vacuum system—hundreds of high torque screws, stethoscope, soap bubbles, tfpsi nitrogen, reconfiguring several pieces of mo equipment— we never found the leak—that effort must have cost $2.4 million in flight time.
Owen got this word that the citizens of Enid [Oklahoma, his home town] would be putting their lights on for him to see—I went up with him—it was the clearest, prettiest night we’ve had— we could see Ft. Worth-Dallas particularly —a twin city, one of few — then Oklahoma City then Enid then St. Louis then Chicago — Owen made a nice narration. He said started to say he saw Tulsa up ahead and realized it was Chicago. Paul Weitz said that was the one thing he never became accustomed to on his flight— the speed which you cover the world, especially the U. S.
This was not quite the end of the story, however, as Owen heard more about the incident following his next conversation on the family private communication loop. It turns out his wife, Helen Mary, also raised in Enid, felt she had to call the radio and TV stations in Enid and try to explain how Owen could be so thoughtless as to not even mention their major citywide effort to be seen directly by him.
Perhaps his predicament was best explained by Alan’s comments on Mission Day 35 after most of the fuss was over: “That night we both went up to see the lights of Enid—he talked of Mexico, Ft. Worth, Dallas, here comes Tulsa, look at St. Louis, Chicago—everything but Enid—Helen Mary called up there and tried to soothe the people—she gave Owen hell—I kept telling him to say something about Enid; they had a direct TV hookup, radio hook to us and all lights including the football field.”
“That’s been an embarrassment to me ever since,” Garriott said more than three decades later. “In fact, I undoubtedly saw Enid, but because there were so many lights all across the area, I wasn’t certain just which ones were from Enid, and by the time I thought I had it figured out, we were past Chicago, less than two minutes later.”
Owen reported an arch on the uv monitor in the corona yesterday. We called it Garriott waves to the ground— he was in the lbnp and was embarrassed and told us to knock it off— we were happy for him. Today he heard the ground could not see it in their taped tv display — he went back and checked and found it to be a sort ofphantom or mirror image of the bright features of the sun except reflected in the camera by the instrument. He’ll get over it (maybe that’s why he was distant).
Crippen woke us this morning with Julie London singing“The Party’s Over." Jack wanted to make this Julie London Day, so did Crippen so he could call her but Owen won out with Gene Cagle Day [who played a major role in the atm development at msfc].
Would you believe it we get better н-alpha pictures at sunset than we do at sunrise because our velocity relative to the sun is less and that effectively changes the freq[uency] of the filter in each н-alpha camera and telescope—not a small item either.
Owen’s humor—I said “watch your head" as I pulled out the film drawer. Owen replied “I’ll try but my eyeballs don’t usually move that far up."
We were laughing about this malfunction (“mal") we had after we discovered
the water glycol leak—I wanted to call Houston and say “Jack is working on the cbrm [charger battery regulator module] mal, Owen on the camera mal— tomorrow after we fix the door mals, the у rate/gyro mals and the nylon swatch mal, I’ll start work again on the coolant loop or the water glycol leak mal. ”
Everyone feels better about eva—I worry too much and Jack will pull it off. Funny how easy it looks now that we are going to do it—did it get easier as we understood the plan or did we just want it to be doable? Morale is high—did perfect on my mo 92/iji (medical experiments).
Mission Day 28 brought the crew’s second spacewalk. Like the first spacewalk of the mission, the second would include an extra task to repair a problem with the station. In addition to the routine task of changing out the atm film canisters, the eva crewmembers would also install a cable for the six-pack gyros.
The Skylab’s attitude, or orientation, control system relied on two sets of gyroscopes. The large Control Moment Gyroscopes were used to torque the whole Skylab to a new attitude or hold it in position. A set of smaller attitude control gyros was used to monitor the attitude of the station. These smaller gyros had proved erratic since the station’s launch, and while they continued to function, the decision was made to activate a new six-pack of gyros on the second eva in hopes of providing improved attitude control.
During the four-and-a-half-hour spacewalk, the two astronauts changed out the atm film cassettes and left two samples of the material used for the parasol outside to be recovered on a later eva so that the effect of exposure could be monitored.
In the days leading up to the spacewalk, Bean found himself having to make a difficult decision—who would go outside and who would stay inside? The original mission plan had called for each of the three astronauts to get two turns at an eva, and the second was to be performed by Bean and Lousma. Bean’s diary captured the decision-making process for who would go on the eva :
Heard tonight we may put in the rate gyro 6pack—I told Owen [that] Jack & I would do it because they did the twin pole and because that sort of work fits my skills better than Owen’s—hope it did not hurt his feelings but that is the way I see it and that’s my job — Owen even brought it up by saying “I think you want to put out the 6pack and that’s okay with me—I’m glad to do it but know you want to"— I said you’re right we don’t need this job but ifit comes up we will pull it off.
Today was a special day —found out we were going to put in the rate gyro pack — who to do it— Owen still wants to do it and so do I. Made up my mind that it would be Owen and I but after reading the procedures realized that I should stay in because ofmy csm experience — Owen and Jack are just not up on it and it is the best decision —Jack will do the 6pack as he is the most mechan- ical-Owen does not do those things as well as Jack, it will be taxing to tell him tomorrow—I was awake about two hours trying to put the pieces together and think Owen and Jack outside — me inside is the best way.
Told Owen and Jack about eva crewman, they both seemed happy, told them what factors were involved and who I felt most qualifiedfor each position. Called Houston and told them later, they seemed happy. I started looking at the equipment for the job—all in good shape.
“I felt that was my job,” Bean said. “I wanted to go eva too. But I felt it was my job. I was mostly concerned with the Command Module and attitude system. Even more important, Jack was the strongest guy. If anyone could twist those connectors that had never been designed to be loosened in flight, Jack was the man. He needed to be out there. And Owen could support him out there. We didn’t need me.”
Though Lousma was also trained as a Command Module pilot, Bean felt it made more sense for Lousma to perform the eva than to man the Apollo spacecraft. “To suddenly move Jack from the right to the left seat in the csm, not a good idea. It’s a better idea to let me do what I’ve been doing all this time. Let Jack do the twisting. He was the strongest; he’s also good at repairing things. He was the right guy.
“So we told the ground, ‘You know, we’ve got an eva coming up in just about three days. We’ve been thinking about our crew assignments for a couple of days. And we think that this would be good. What do you think?’ And sometime later on the next day they said something, like, just in the update, ‘We think that’s right.’ So we were always ahead of them in these kinds of things, or we tried to be anyway, so that we had the right people doing the right job.”
The six-pack gyros were so called rather logically because they consisted of a set of six gyroscopes. The six-pack itself was actually installed by Gar – riott inside the Skylab, but turning over attitude control to the new system required going outside and connecting up a set of cables to circumvent the station’s original attitude control rate gyros in favor of the new ones. Using a special tool designed for the task, Lousma had to twist the old connections from their sockets and then twist the new cables into place—a task notoriously much more difficult in microgravity than on Earth. If you twist something in microgravity without gravity holding you in place, you also twist yourself unless you’re secured in place. The work that was to be done had not been anticipated during the Skylab’s design, and as a result there was nothing on the structure for the purpose of keeping an astronaut from spinning around an object that he was trying to twist.
“So I ended up wedging myself somehow so that when I turned on these [connections] that were hard to get off I didn’t rotate myself out of the picture,” Lousma said. “It took a fair amount of sweat and so forth to figure out how that was going to be done. It was one of those things that the water tank misleads you on. It’s not perfect in neutral buoyancy.”
eva day. I was talking to myself during eva and Jack wondered what I was saying—I told him I was just shooting the shit. Jack quipped, “get any?— what’s the limit on those?"—Owen was saying “ come on,… hustle… give us some of that positive mental attitude"— pma (he doesn’t believe in it. But knows I use it on me and them also.) “Go Earl [motivational author Earl Nightingale]," Owen said. I said “you need it, it works on you whether you like it or not".
Jack had a difficult time with a connector or two—it was difficult for me to keep from asking questions of Jack as I wondered ifthat would be the end ofthe show but he said don’t talk for awhile and just let me work on it. He did for a very long у minutes and then reported connected.
Owen was elated with the view over the Andes — the 2jo degree panorama with 5 solar panels in the field ofview to form a perspective or frame work. They were flying over all the world outside of the vehicle going iyooo MPH. Lost three shims and one nut taking off the first ramp.
We have only i to 2 min of tv because of recorder time left so have to hold it for Owen’s return to the fas. Owen had to come out of the foot restraints to remove the ramps from the so 56 and 82 a doors. Sun end BA lights worked this
time —Jack said he can see many orange lights, we were over mid Russia—not many cities — Orion came up, a beautiful constellation, Owen still working on bolts at Sun end.
Got a master alarm-смо gas-s/с going out of attitude—I put it in Att Hold— Tacs x was at 16degrees.
Sometimes, like on a tall building, get a controllable urge similar to jumping off which is to open a hatch to vacuum—or take off a glove or pop a helmet—fortunately these are passing impulses that you can control but it is interesting to know they take place.
Great eva today—all happy tonight.
Owen bitched about the medical types that take care of ourfood because they told [crew physician] Paul Buchanan our food cue cards were wrong for optimal salt and they had not bothered to update it and had been making them up with supplements. — Owen flew off the handle because he has been wanting salt.
It is comforting to know someone (many someones) on the ground are working our space craft problems faster and much better than we. We generally perform a holding action if we can. Till help and advice comes, then take the info or suggestions and do them. This is the only way we can free our minds to do the day to day task, the production tasks where someone is trouble shooting our problems.
Rearranged my bunk room —put a portable light on the floor near the head of my bed and turned my bed bag upside down so that I could grab the items inside easily. I used the door next to the bottom locker (pulled out about 30 degrees) as a writing desk. Stole the power cable for the light from the spiders’ cage—hope Owen doesn’t get upset. He has been getting messages to feed them both filet and keep them watered. Will we bring them to the post flight press conference?
The teleprinter is a device about which you can have mixed feelings—it would be hell to get the information any other way so it must be cared for as an expenditure of effort. But at the same time every time you hear it printing you know it is more work for you to do. Wish we would get a non work related message sometime.
Garriott recalled the view during the spacewalk being amazing. “As I was sending film canisters back to Jack with a telescoping rod, I had a few moments to just enjoy the scenery. At that moment we were moving eastward across the South Pacific approaching Chile. To my right I could see the high Andes Mountains, topped with snow and even high lakes and salt
deposits, extending all the way to Tierra del Fuego. Looking to my left the Andes extended all the way to Peru. Large cumulonimbus clouds [thunderclouds] reached upward to quite high altitudes near the equatorial tropics, their vertical extent noticeable even from 435 kilometers high, and long shadows were cast in sunset colors, over 100 kilometers down-sun. Then looking straight ahead of our ground track, I could see over the Andes, across Argentina, to the Atlantic Ocean! Magnified ”
“The eva s were really the most memorable part of being up there,” Jack Lousma said. “The launch and reentry obviously get your attention, but every other day kind of fades into the day before and the day after except for the times we did the eva s. Those were just spectacular. Of course at that time we didn’t have the continuous communication [provided by the communication relay satellite]. We could just talk when we were over a ground station, and if we were lucky, we could miss every ground station for a full orbit. You’re out there all by yourself. You just kind of felt self-reliant, more self-reliant than you might otherwise feel.
“But the evas were spectacular. I remember going out to the Apollo Telescope one time and having Alan turn off the running lights on the Sky- lab. We were in the darkness over Siberia somewhere, and there’s no light down there. I almost couldn’t see my hand in front of my face; I’m whirling around the world at 17,500 miles an hour, hanging on by one foot; I can hardly see anything. And I thought, who in the heck has ever done this before? Nobody—or at least, it was a rather unique opportunity. It was those kind of things that I relished, that made the whole trip memorable.”
Felt good to have atm film again. Operating the atm telescopes and cameras is one of the most enjoyable tasks here. It is challenging, you can directly contribute to improved data acquisition—Owen has effectively changed the method of operating it in just % of a month. The Polaroid camera and the persistent image scope have made a significant difference.
I had Houston give all the atm passes tomorrow, our day off, to Jack and I, so Owen could finish some things he is behind on and do some additional items that he has planned prior to flight— the flight is V2 over and he has had little spare time—he needs some to be happy.
Using the head [waste-management compartment] for sponge baths because
sponges squirt water out when pushed on the skin. Bathing has become more pleasant as I have been less careful about sprinkling water about. I tend to now splash it somewhat. And after the bath is complete, wipe up the droplets on the walls. None on the floor like on Earth if you do the same.
We passed Pete, Joe and Paul’s old spaceflight mark, in fact we now hold the world record for spaceflight— it feels good to be breaking new ground said Jack today. We will be V2 into our mission tomorrow night.
Our TV got too hot during Eva and quit working— we will do the rest of the mission on one TV I guess. Funny, they did not insulate it sufficiently. We had a plan to put it at the solar air lock for eva but can’t do it now.
Jack has a small sty on his left eye, he wanted some “yellow mercury" but settled for Neosporin. Jack treated himselfbut Owen will examine it tomorrow—Paul Buchanan saidfor us to be extremely careful because that could be contagious. Perhaps a streptococcus of some type.
Reviews of the shower were somewhat mixed. While some of the crewmembers found that it was an agreeable luxury for occasional use, it could also be rather time-consuming. “‘Bathing’ in the shower facility provided meant floating in an erectable water-tight cylinder, preparing warm water, spraying yourself to get wet, soaping up, rinsing off, collecting waste water, and then reversing the whole process. It was an enormous waste of time,” Garriott said. “It typically took more than an hour to complete. Especially true when a wet washcloth or sponge, soapy if desired, can do just as well in only five or ten minutes and one feels, and actually is, just as clean as in the shower. As a result, Alan took a total of two showers, Jack one, and I took zero for the whole mission. Yet we all remained quite well cleansed, especially after working out each day for exercise.”
First relaxed day! We stayed busy, atm all day (Al & Jack), but not too much hurry.
I sent down three TV bits (Arabella —>Anita; rocket stability; water droplet). Good science debrief even Bob MacQueen got on mike! A new precedent.
“The standard procedure had always been for the Capcom, another astronaut, to do all the talking with the flight crew,” Garriott explained. “They are each well known personally to the crew and can possibly appreciate the crew’s situation better from their own experiences. Whatever the purported
reasoning may be, there is likely a bit of ‘turf protection’ involved as well. Communication is a crew task and nobody better interfere! Even the flight directors, who have the official responsibility for all mission decisions never get on the ‘air-to-ground’ loop to talk to the crew. (ok, a few instances of center director or others excepted. Maybe even the president of the United States.)”
“But with Science (capitalized) recognized as the main purpose of the entire program, why not let one or more Pis—principal investigators—discuss how things are going, especially when requested by the crew? Common sense did prevail, and Dr. Robert MacQueen became the first pi (of the White Light Coronagraph experiment and representing the entire solar physics team) to discuss some science issues directly with us. We discussed his coronagraph observations, flares and precursors, and several other items, most or all of which could have been handled by our proficient Capcoms, including (late) astronomer Karl Henize. But it did set a useful precedent, and it was repeated later in the mission with other disciplines.”
We are going to sleep just under one hour to the mission midpoint. Our science briefing today showed that we had made up the atm observing time we missed early in the mission and predictions are for us to exceed even the 260 hr atm sun viewing goal. We are ahead in corollary experiments.
Took my second shower, noticed that I could not hear most of the time unless I shook my head because large amounts of water go into my ear openings. I was the only one showering today.
Exercised today although that is not my plan for day off— not doing the exercise would be a nice reward but did not have time eva day.
Jack made an excellent observation when he saidnasa should play down the spider after the initial release because it tended to detract from the more meaningful experiments we are doing up here. Will the taxpayer say, now that I know what they are doing up there, I don’t like my money going for that sort of thing.
Owen tried to do a science bubble experiment with cherry drink but [it] didn’t look too promising to me. He kept losing the drop ofdrink from the straw.
I have noticed if I do not force myself to drink then I will drink much less than on Earth and will dehydrate—I do not seem to automatically desire the proper quantity of water. I suggested that when we get back we may not naturally readapt to one g and become dehydrated there. Owen does not agree at all.
Spent part of the morning composing a message to the dedication of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Space Center. Thanks to Owen’s andJack’s suggestions, it turned out acceptable I think. It must have because at the dedication Dr. Fletcher read only President Nixon’s and ours.
When I used to float from compartment to compartment I would be a little disoriented when I got there—now I look ahead as I enter and do a quick roll to the ‘heads up’ attitude for the space I’m entering.
Owen said his only regret was that he would never adapt to zero-g again—he thinks Pete [and his crew] is the only one besides ourselves that has ever done so.
About every other night I get up because of unusual noises—mostly they are all thermal noises. The most unusual view occurred once as I was in my bunk and peered up to the forward compartment. The У2 light from the airlock revealed three white suited figures, arms outstretched, leaning several awkward ways—silent, large with white helmet straps-one drying, the others waiting to dry. I was shook a little by the eerie sight so I went to the wardroom and looked out. The dark exterior with white airglow layer and white clouds filled the lower right portion of the window like it was one foot away. It startled me even more.
Morale is high—work level is high. — Last night after dinner Owen asked Jack if he (Jack) would like him (Owen) to take his last atm pass. Jack said no he was lookingforward to it— he wanted to find some more Ellerman bombs—[bright points in penumbra near sun spots] as he got some earlier—I interrupted and mentioned that the flight planners had voice uplinked a change in the morning, assigning me to the pass. Owen laughed— here we all are fighting for the last atm pass [ofthe day].
Kidded Owen about wearing his M133 cap—I said Jack and I better watch ourps & Qs tomorrow, Owen will be in a bad, criticizing mood— he took the kidding well, hope it will have effect.
I have been decreasing my number of mistakes significantly by only doing one job at a time. Invariably if I do [more than one task], I do not get back in time or do not catch simple error in the first set up.
Bean found it difficult to avoid multitasking—starting up one experiment and then moving on to another one while that one was running. The
atm provided particular temptation in that respect. After he started a task, there would be nothing else he could do for a little while, and he frequently found himself working on something else to fill the time. However, he found that while that period of time was long enough to make him want to do something else, it was short enough that he was gone from the atm too long when he did.
On Day 37, Garriott wrote in his diary: “Almost everything on my personal list of extra items has been worked in. TV Science Demos are not too good. Still may get some worked in.” For a generation of school children, these “science demos” were one of Skylab’s most familiar legacies.
“Before flight, I prepared a list of (hopefully) interesting demonstrations that I might videotape or record on film that could be turned into instructional films for students, probably high-school level, but possibly older and younger,” Garriott remembered. “They would be unique to the weightless environment and also challenge their thinking about physics in this exotic environment. I obtained a few one-quarter-inch by two-inch rod magnets before flight (a few dollars from Edmund Scientific), stowed them in my personal gear, and made use of other on-board hardware items for these demonstrations.”
Indeed, the magnets were quite effective in demonstrating for students the unique environment of microgravity. When released from Garriott’s fingers, they oscillated back and forth like any terrestrial magnet, but now in three dimensions instead of one or two like an ordinary compass. When two magnets were put end-to-end, their oscillation rate was much reduced. When placed side by side, they hardly oscillated at all because their two magnetic fields canceled each other out.
Another experiment mounting frame was used to spin extra large, flat metal nuts off the bolts on the frame. It is well known that nuts do not stay on bolts well in weightlessness, because the lack of gravitational forces reduces friction and makes them easy to “spin off.” A very stable spin was produced in this way as compared to spinning them by hand alone when they always have a considerable wobble. When a magnet was taped to their face, the spinning nut was found to precess very nicely in space.
After the crew returned home, these films and videos were edited and a script prepared to show how the experiments all function in weightlessness. Each is about fifteen minutes long and was prepared with help from
astronaut Joe Allen and a local contractor. They were distributed by most NASA centers and have been viewed by many millions of students in their classroom settings. They are titled Zero-G, Conservation Laws in Zero-G, Gyroscopes in Space, Fluids in Weightlessness, Magnetism in Space, and Magnetic Effects in Space. Bean recalled being impressed both with the experiments that Garriott did and with his dedication in using his Sunday free time to carry them out. “Owen did some experiments on Sunday, which I see even today on TV,” he said. “Those were good experiments. Good stuff.”
Though much of the central footage for the videos was shot live in orbit, Garriott had a few additional scenes to add upon his return to Earth, including one featuring a somewhat unwilling accomplice. “In the Conservation Laws film and video, I decided to try to film and explain how a cat always lands on its feet when dropped from a modest height,” Garriott said. “I had demonstrated a similar result while in space. So I used our own house cat, Calico. But only once, as he learned very quickly what I had in mind. He was to be dropped from only about three feet onto a pillow just out of the camera view just in case it didn’t work as planned. When dropped with feet upward, in a small fraction of a second he had rotated around with exaggerated tail and body motion to place feet downward and had extended his claws, which raked across my nearby hand! (‘Serves you right,’ I can almost hear now from all the cat lovers reading this.) I carefully hid the blood appearing on the back of my hand from the still-rolling camera. But it does make for a fascinating explanation and it is none too obvious, to explain how a cat or a high diver or an astronaut can start with no body rotation whatsoever (no angular momentum) and then reorient themselves to face in any direction desired, before coming to a complete stop again. The cat does it instinctively and very fast, with high frame speed required to see it.”
Got my firstflare today—A c6 in active region 12. I noticed it while doing some sun center work as an especially bright semicircular ring around a spot. There were 8 or so similar bright rings but this one became exceptionally bright both in hydrogen-alpha and in the xuv. I debated with myself about stopping the scheduled atm work and going over and concentrate on the possible flare. As of this time it had not reached full flare intensity and it is not possible to know whether it will just keep increasing in intensity or will level off then drop. As I elected to stop the experiments in progress and repoint I noticed about 5800 counts on our Be (beryllium) counter. —A true good flare would be 4150 counts.
It never got much higher. Owen hustled up at once to help—He noted [experiment number] % was not at sun center so we repointed it (It was 80 arc sec too low) We took pictures in all except 82A which is extremely tight on film at this point. Owen stayed up late doing atm because of the activity.
Paul [Buchanan] had Joe Kerwin talk with us the other night. Joe had heard we had asked to stay longer and he indicated they had discussed it on Day 22 or 24 and decided against it. He seemed to think they had made the proper decision. Joe indicated Pete, Paul [Weitz] & he were in preflight condition—the only real funny was the fact their red blood cell mass was down 15 % or so and their bodies did not start making it up till about Day ij. Why it waited that long they do not know. I wondered ifit were possible to affect the mechanism so that it stopped forever. Seems far fetched, but a thought.
As an astronaut you become very health conscious—if we were not so healthy we could become hypochondriacs. I’ve worried about a rupture in the lbnp. My legs losing circumference, back strain on the exerciser, gaining too much weight, not having a good appetite in zero g, heart attacks, you name it—I worried about it—As Owen said—from a health viewpoint these may be the most important 2 months in our lives. He could be right with the changes going on and the remoteness of medical aid.
Writing at atm panel, first time I’ve had enough time to write up here! We’ve had fantastic solar activity the last 3 or 4 days. ssn (sunspot number) greater than 150 (ij8 once, I think). Subflares more or less routine. We don’t respond in flare mode to save film.
Sunspots have been observed from the ground for centuries. At one point in history even acknowledging the possibility of sunspots was a dangerous belief since it seemed to indicate that the sun was not “perfect.” By the time of Skylab, however, a lot more was known about them, such as that the spots come and go over about an eleven-year cycle (or twenty-two years, for those who watch their magnetic polarity). At times of least activity, they may all be gone; and when Skylab actually reached orbit, it was near the time of sunspot minimum. But much to the crew’s surprise, amazement, and pleasure, the sun decided to “act up,” and generated more than one hundred of these spots and regions across its face at times. A very “measle-y” appearance but great news for the solar physicists. During the second crew’s two-month stay on orbit, the sun made two full rotations and also changed its sunspot
activity from the low teens to over 150. It provided a marvelous opportunity to study the sun in all its suits of clothes.
Bean recalled that “along about halfway through or so, we began to realize that when Owen manned the atm, which was our most continuously operating experiment and the primary experiment, that things went better — the coordination with the ground, the knowledge. So very soon, I said, ‘I’m not going to do the atm anymore, let’s let Owen and Jack do it.’ I tried to put Owen on there as much as I could, as much as he could take. Because we felt the data was better when he was there. As I remember, when flares came up, he was generally there.
“We were journeymen there I felt, Jack maybe was better than me, but Owen was much superior. And we could do the other stuff like heating up the furnace so it’ll melt metal. You just turn on the switch and do the checklist, and we didn’t have to make much in the way of decisions about what we were seeing there. It’s just a fact. Owen was just superior at it. And it fit him. He enjoyed it, and knew more about it, and loved it. It was his kind of stuff.”
I mentioned to Owen that our attitude varies like the sun’s activity—now it’s way up because the sun’s activity is up. Owen avowed that ours is up or way up. Always positive. I mentioned that the first few days it didn’t seem way up. He allowed that. It wasn’t down—sort of like rain on a camping trip —You just have to be patient, good times are ahead. He also allowed that that would be a quotable quote when we got back.
Forgot to mention Jack saying that if they extended us we could always do bmmd calibrations all day—Right, 1 on the bmmd, i on each smmd, then rotate every hour.
In the middle of last night I heard a loud thump—It actually shook the vehicle. I got out ofbed and looked at all the tank pressures in the cluster and even in the CSM. Nothing seen—I recorded the time oj2<; and told Houston this morning. They called back and said they broke the data down at minute intervals and found nothing— they are now breaking it into У2 sec increments. Something happened, but what I don’t know. Perhaps it was a sharper than usual thermal deformation.
Lousma’s crack about the calibrations was a bit of astronaut humor, since the crew felt that they wasted far too much time simply calibrating the body
and small mass measuring devices, when in reality the calibration numbers never changed. Garriott had made a reference in his diary just a few days earlier to how much time was spent on the calibration. “By golly, I would make note of it in this diary and remember to tell the pi, astronaut Bill Thornton, what a pain in the butt and waste of time all this was!”
Jack is pedaling the bike with his arms—good for shoulder and arms, he can do щ watt/min for у minutes.
Owen just flew by with the evening teleprinter messages — We try to find a new record, our old record is from the dome hatch to the ceiling of the experiment compartment.
Owen was on the atm almost all day doing jop [Joint Operation Plan] 12 —Calibration rocket work to compare with a more recent sun sensor instrument to insure our instrument calibrations have not drifted.
erep tape recorder easy to load, tape has not set and does not float off the reel & make a tangle.
Story Musgrave said there was a sound in the background like a roaring dragon —It was the sound of Jack pulling the mkii exerciser.
Jack’s triangle shoes are wearing out—Hard work on the bike & mkii mostly. He is going to recommend SL4 bring up an extra pair.
Took a soap (Neutrogena) & rag bath today after work out— Do a soap one every other day—And a water one the other day. We are all clean—Body odor just is not present nor is a sticky feeling after exercise.
Several things I have learned up here but the most valuable for atm operation is “Do not try to do anything else while you operate atm — You invariably make atm mistakes" Another is “2 to 5 minutes is too short a time to let your mind wander on another subject when you are within that time from a job that must be done then — such as a switch throw, photo exposure, etc. ”
Our condensate system vacuum leak has fixed itself— somehow when I connected it all back up after the dump probe changeout, it did not leak. The ground thinks it’s a fitting on the small condensate tank.
The second paragraph of that entry refers to length of the teleprinter tape for one day’s messages from the ground, some twenty-five feet, all of which had to be read, divided up among crewmen, and then executed to accomplish that day’s activities.
The jop 12 was another of the crew’s calibration activities, in which they compared Skylab measurements with similar measurements made from a rocket launched from the ground reaching very high altitudes, to assure that the Skylab instruments had not drifted in sensitivity.
3 atm passes today. Got a good flare in ляп [active region 12], an м-class (reported by the ground, a rather large one) and another probably high class C flare in ляр. Really prepared for it— “text book" situation. Everyone should have good data. Then good post flare on 3rd orbit.
Later saw aurora Australis (southern hemisphere), w/ photos, then several hours later, 0303Z, large extensive aurora borealis (northern hemisphere). Good photos, і and 4 second exposures.
Paul B. said we had a 7 day extension! We all thought beyond 60 days, but he only meant for next week: days 40—4J! Oh well—
Note difficulty in finding “dropped objects." Eyes not accustomed to focusing at intermediate distances. Seem to always look at “bottom"surfaces.
“This was an unexpected phenomenon,” Garriott explained. “When we dropped or lost a small item, we usually could not find it again promptly. We always seemed to look on hard surfaces where we would normally have left it. But three-dimensional space was just too difficult to search visually. Soon we found a solution, however. Air circulation was always from our living areas (should say volumes, since we can use all three dimensions now) and then collected at a single intake filter high in the ows dome area. Every morning we could visit the intake duct, probably find a little lint from clothes and so forth, and also all the little items, pencils, notes, that we had lost the day before.”
Lousma discovered another trick that helped him deal with the same problem. When he found it difficult to locate something lost in the threedimensional space in front of him, he tricked his mind into looking at the situation differently by literally turning the problem upside-down. “When we were looking for something that we lost, the best way to find it was to turn upside down,” he said. “Because you normally look at the top of everything, you don’t think about looking under there. But when you’re upside down and look for something, you look at those places that you don’t normally see, or that your eye doesn’t get drawn to, because you tend to expect things to be sitting on something.”
37- Lousma demonstrates basic grooming on Skylab.
The auroras were a particularly beautiful sight from orbit. Bean recalled being surprised at how impressive they were viewed from above. “Strangely enough, because I wasn’t that interested in auroras, I remember seeing both auroras,” he said. “Owen became the first person, I think, in history, to see both auroras the same day. He saw them during the same orbit, about forty-five minutes apart.
“They looked different, and they looked strange. They were bright, and streaming. They were just easier to see than from Earth. I can remember just being amazed at the size of them, and the nice colors of them.”
As I was waiting to start the erep pass & we had a 3 min maneuver time to z-lv. I did two chips [small segments of the operations plans] of the atm contingency plan for no erep then powered it down for erep. Bet that’s a space first.
Grand Rapids blinked its lights for Jack Lousma tonight. He said some good words over the headset.
Owen got a x class flare first time manning the atm panel this morning, we all hustled up there to help. It was well done. The big daddy flare we have been wait – ingfor. All ofus were laughing and cutting up. Owen had said yesterday he had used all his luck up. Guess he didn’t or he’s running on Jack’s or mine.
Took apart the video tape recorder and removed 4 circuit boards, 63 screws did the job. No sign ofcircuit problems, burns, loose wires, etc.
Owen & Paul had it out on the exercise, as Paul said last night Owen was slacking off. Jack was up at the atm and was laughing and hollering as was I. We have been callingOwen "slacker”this evening. [Bean and Garriottsaid postflight that they consider this one ofthe funniest episodes of the mission.]
Owen and I got 10 erep film cassettes, 1 erep tape, 3 Earth terrain camera mags and a soip mag out of a… bag where the sl-2 crew had left it. Wonder if we could use it on our mission or on a mission extension.
I am very happy with the way our crew is performing— We are doing the job without problems & without giving problems. In my view, it’s a professional performance.
Paul B. [flight physician Buchanan] complains about slacking off on [exercise] work. Probably data error. More tomorrow. ..
atm discussion…. White Light transient, bigflare… Sort of "chewed out” Paul B. on his data interpretation. Apparently [they] had lost several days of data. Alsays I was "too hard”. Jack thinks okay, just "business like”. However, don’t want a reputation [for] "baddisposition”. Hmm, have to work on that.
[Today is daughter] Linda’s [seventh] birthday. Sent greeting via Capcom.
Talk of reentry, etc., beginning. Good ^wlc transient [a "wlc transient” is a white light coronagraph transient, now usually called a coronal mass ejection or
cme]. Almost passed it up. Very good one, I think. Would have missed it, probably, except that I had a lot of “observing time”—free.
Al decided that I could go eva on the 3rd one! Glad to get all three!
… health andspirits are higher than ever. We’d all like an extra week extension. Hardfor Al to stay busy—about right for me.
… Al sent down the wrong chest girth for Jack. Something like 142 cm inspiration and 96 cm expiration. Ground medical report said too much, even for a Marine!
… May try taped message to Crippen tomorrow.
Lots of good southern aurora. Greenish at lower altitude—reddish above. Lots of structure, kinks, vertical striations, changes by the minute. Some of it almost directly beneath Skylab just before sunrise.
Easy day. Did tv show with magnetic demonstration].
Pretty good day, nothing special. Up an hour early, plus bed ~2 hours late for atm, though. Not too tired. Still in runningfor [a mission] extension.
“On the evening of md -46, I finally played the trick that had been in work for over two months,” said Garriott. “It even had the flight controllers puzzled for twenty-five years! My objective was to pretend that my wife, Helen, had come up to Skylab to bring us a hot meal, even though this was an obvious impossibility. Here is how the scheme worked. I recorded her voice on my small hand-held tape recorder before flight, pretending to have a brief conversation with a Capcom, with time gaps for his replies. The Capcom would be my only ‘accomplice,’ but his role would be carefully disguised. It was also necessary to have some recent event mentioned to validate the currency of the dialogue, so it would seem it could not have been recorded before flight. The short dialogue is printed below in its entirety. I knew that both Bob Crippen and Karl Henize were going to be Capcoms for Sky – lab, so they were brought into the planning, given the script and rehearsed on their timing. They kept the short script on a piece of paper in their billfolds, awaiting the right moment.
“For our flight in August-September, there would be many occasions of natural disasters involving forest fires or hurricanes, which would be widely known throughout the United States. So a few comments about one or
the other were made on the tape. This led to four different scripts being recorded, one for each of the two Capcoms and one each for the two natural events. I would play the tape on the normal air-to-ground voice link with my wife’s recorded voice and the Capcom would respond as if totally surprised by the female interloper.”
Near the end of one period of voice contact Garriott said to the ground, “I’ll have something for you on the next pass, Bob.” Crippen replied, “Roger that, Owen.” Then quietly and surreptitiously, he reviewed the brief script that had been in his pocket for all these weeks. Soon after coming into voice range, the ground heard this voice on the standard air-to-ground link:
Skylab (a female voice): “Gad, I don’t see how the boys manage to get rid of the feedback between these speakers. . . . Hello Houston, how are you reading me down there? (5 sec. pause) Hello Houston, are you reading Skylab?”
Capcom: “Skylab, this is Houston. We heard you alright, but had difficulty recognizing your voice. Who do we have on the line up there?”
Skylab: “Hello Houston. Roger. Well I haven’t talked with you for a while. Isn’t that you down there, Bob? This is Helen, here in Skylab. The boys hadn’t had a good home cooked meal in so long, I thought I’d bring one up. Over”
Capcom: “Roger, Skylab. Someone’s gotta be pulling my leg, Helen. Where are you?”
Skylab: “Right here in Skylab, Bob. Just a few orbits ago we were looking down on those forest fires in California. The smoke sure covers a lot of territory, and, oh boy, the sunrises are just beautiful! Oh oh. . . . See you later, Bob. I hear the boys coming up here and I’m not supposed to be on the radio.”
“Then quiet returned to the voice link, but we were told later, Bob Crippen had lots of questions coming his way in the Control Center,” Garriott said. “What was going on? Where was this voice coming from? Bob must have been a very good actor, because he claimed complete ignorance and innocence of how it happened. Everyone heard it coming down on the air – to-ground loop. The whole two-way conversation sounded like a perfectly normal dialogue. No breaks or gaps, and they all heard Bob respond in real time. Could I have recorded Helen’s voice on a ‘family conversation’ from our
home? Yes, but there was no recent one. How would she have known about the fires, or who was to be on Capcom duty and how could she respond to Bob’s comments in real time, as everyone could hear?
“No one ever worked out how this was accomplished. Finally, at our twenty-fifth reunion celebration in Houston in 1998, and with many of the flight directors and controllers present and still with no clue as to how it was done, I described it all as above. My prejudiced opinion is that this was the best ‘gotcha’ ever perpetrated on our friendly flight controllers!”
Crippen recalled: “That was kind of a fun trick. There was head rubbing. Everybody in the mocr, or the control room, was looking like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ We did a good job. It was fun. Working those missions got to be tough. We did all kinds of things to try to come up with levity. That was a nice one that the crew got that the ground control didn’t know about.”
This was a good day right up to the end. I had a M092hyi scheduled after dinner and at about 2 min from completion I had to punch out. I had a very warm tin – gly feeling in my arms and shoulders. Don’t know whether it was too much hard driving today or just what— my urine output 2 days ago was larger by 100 % my normal— It even beat Owen & Jack. It probably means something.
Flight Director Don Puddy said, “Crip’s birthday is today and we have a surprise for him. Maybe you could sing Happy Birthday from orbit. (Incidentally, our wives and kids were at MCC tonight) We rounded up Owen’s sound effects tape, found the party sounds and when he came up the next site we played the tape, told him we were having a party in his honor and sang Happy Birthday. Jack stood back and hesitated to sing for some reason. Crip was moved I could tell— they brought out a cake for him — He is one swell guy, and efficient too.
This was the last comm. pass tonight so he told us that he hated to be the bearer of bad news but our request to stay longer had been considered but that it was decided to hold to the present entry schedule of Day 60. We answered with a simple, “ok, thanks.”
We talked of it the rest of the evening—I ran around saying how great that was — now we could get home—Now we could get off the food— our Command Module would never last more than 60 days — Owen said, “He never thought we would be extended because there was no positive reason for doing so, atm film used up, more erep sites than ever thought possible, we’re all healthy, all corollary experiments overkilled— to sum up—more risk with little to gain—we could not think of any directorate but our own who would support us. atm wants us back for data to look at prior to SL4, erep wants its data, medical wants our bodies. Jack was disappointed.
Got call from the ground wanting to know who had been riding the ergom – eter during Jack’s M092 /iji—I said me. I knew Paul would ask about it later (by the way, this occurred yesterday) tonight Paul wondered if I thought I could monitor M092 from the bike—I said yes, but that I knew the medical directorate would not like it. I asked if he could ride a bicycle and carry on a conversation at the same time. He said he went over to the simulator and tried it & it seemed ok to him.
In Apollo you go for just a visit or trip to zero g. In Skylab you live it.
“In earlier manned spaceflight programs and missions ‘launch to landing’ flight plans were prepared in detail and then executed with updates as required,” flight director Phil Shaffer said. “Basically it was held intact to satisfy mission requirements established before the flight design process began. In Skylab, sections of the flight plan such as launch and rendezvous or deorbit and entry were similar, and a complete nominal plan was generated for the on-orbit operations for such activities as determination of consumables usage budgets, but the actual daily on-orbit plans were generated in real time to recognize situations and conditions as they were in the present time frame.
“As a result, the folks at NASA headquarters thought they should be directly involved in planning the activities to be planned in the near-real-time flight planning processes. This preference was not known and was not prepared for by the flight operations people until late in the premission time frame.
“I believed there was an inherent conflict when upper-level management people stop limiting themselves to setting objectives, requirements, and guidelines and begin trying to control implementation and execution, especially when control was down to the level of specific procedures. I did not believe they were trained for this and were not required to be sufficiently familiar with the specific configuration of systems and hardware. I believed the selection, scheduling, detailed planning, implementation, and execution responsibilities rested with the flight control and flight crew people who were both trained and familiar. In any case the result was the establishment of the Mission Management Team (mmt) that met outside Mission Control and provided inputs to the planning teams that were sometimes inappropriate.
“On Alan Bean’s flight, this conflict surfaced when the mmt sent direction that the crewmember serving as the lbnp experiment monitor was to discontinue the practice of riding the ergometer [stationary bike] during the performance of this experiment. Their concern apparently was that since the experiment subject could lose consciousness when the pressure was reduced on the lower part of his body, the monitor could not respond quickly enough in terminating the depressurization. However, the practice of riding the ergometer during lbnp activity provided a free exercise opportunity and in fact the monitor did not have to get off the ergometer to reach the control for repressurization. He could reach it from the seat.
“An mmt representative came into Mission Control to deliver the input for the day, and I had the good fortune to be the flight director that day. He directed me to tell the crew that henceforth and forever more the lbnp monitor would not ride the ergometer during the experiment. So I asked ‘And the rationale for this is. . . ?’ and he told me how dangerous the mmt thought the practice was. I started to ask him where they thought the monitor ought to be but didn’t as it probably would have started a nonconstructive debate. Instead, I told him ‘I need to talk to Bill Schneider, now.’ Bill was the program director for Skylab from NASA headquarters. The mmt messenger looked at me for about a heartbeat and left.
“In short order Bill showed up at my console, and I told him, ‘Bill, you guys are making a big mistake with this direction to not ride the ergometer during lbnp operations.’ I described to him the proximity of the ergometer to the lbnp and its controls and then told him, ‘I want you here on the console with me when I tell Alan that the lbnp monitor can no longer ride the ergometer during the lbnp experiment because he can not adequately monitor the subject. Further, Bill, I want you to respond to Alan directly when he comes on the downlink and tells us how little he thinks of that idea.’ Bill looked at me for an instant and said, ‘Don’t tell him. . . we are not going to do it that way.’
“And we didn’t; we continued to take advantage of the free exercise period during lbnp operations for the rest of Skylab.”
The decision not to grant the extension marked the beginning of the end of the Skylab II mission. The crew began preparations for their return home in earnest. The next day Bean noted in his diary that he had received several changes to the entry checklist (reflecting the new procedures needed due to the thruster malfunction) and had spent an hour or so reading through the revised version.
“The other evening I spent an hour or so in the csm touching each switch as I went thru the entry check lists,” he wrote in his diary. “Nice to find out one does not forget too rapidly.”
The approaching end of the mission meant that the crewmembers also had to begin a staged shift of their circadian rhythm—the body’s sense of when it should be asleep or awake—to prepare for the return to Earth. The schedule for the final day of the mission had already been planned out to assure that the crew had the opportunity to get as much rest as possible before beginning reentry. For the remainder of the mission, they would gradually change their scheduled sleep and wake periods to transition their circadian rhythms so that they would be ready.
Two busy days. More aurora, atm sees a more quiet sun now, severalereppasses; the bad news last night was no further mission extension was possible. 59 V2 days would have to be it. We would be eating into the third crew’s food to do that, which we ended up slightly infringing anyway — mostly the sugar cookies, I think. And I’m sure the atm film will be exhausted before then, as we are already having to ration ourselves. Just too many fascinating things to record!
Day off. We did our usual 2 erep & atm plus not much else. We go to bed 2 hours early tonight to shift our circadian rhythm around— We did not want this but can live with it. I went to the csm to get a Seconal to sleep on time. — Owen couldn’t find the ows Seconal— it was in some other drug cans that the ground had him move. Later he inventoried some drugs — This sort ofthing always puts him in a bad mood.
Pedaled the ergometer for 99 straight minutes, to establish a new world’s record for pedaling non-stop around the world— and as Jack said, I did it without wheels too. Owen was interested and thought he might do it later in the week when our orbit had decayed and then beat my time by a second or less. Bruce McCandless [Capcom]pointed out that he must exceed by at least 9% to establish his claim.
Owen did some good TV of how the TV close up lens could be used medically —He looked at Jack’s eye, ear, nose, throat & teeth and discussed how the TV
might be used by doctors to aid us in diagnosis and in treatment of problems we might have, say, an eye injury, a tooth extraction, suturing a wound or any number of things from a broken bone to skin rash. Owen has a mind that dwells on the scientific aspect of all that he does. He knows much about much—he is interested in all branches of sciences. He is a great back of the envelope calculator—able to reduce most problems to their simplest elements. He has done great school room tv demonstrations of zero g water, magnets, his spiders.
Our circadian rhythm is in good shape today after the shift. Found out today that we had 6 hrs from tunnel closeout to undock—then 1 hr 44 min from there to deorbit burn then 24 min to 400,000 feet. A nice slow timeline that will allow us to get set up, double/triple checked for our entry. —Maybe we [can] stand up 2 hours later — well, we’ll see.
a Tm operations have become much simplified the last week — with all the solar activity the film is gone. — It was a freak on the sun and we were lucky to see it.
“Day off ” yesterday [but did] several tv shows, magnetic effects demo, medical demo. Jerry Hordinsky [the next crew’s physician, who was filling in since Paul Buchanan was en route to the recovery ship], mentioned a “limited test” in which subjects were given Scop-Dex to see if it affected their medical tests. He said in one subject there was a minor effect. Jokingly, I asked how the other test subject did. Jerry replied that “he had no effect”.
[Remarked Garriott: “Some study! I intended my question as a joke, but there really were only two subjects!”]
Some free time still. Every one still feeling tops. We’re winding down now, getting ready for final eva and reentry. Doing a few 2-hour time shift adjustments to get ready for reentry [west of San Diego]. Finally pulled out a library book a few minutes ago and read for 10 minutes. Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Space is too fascinating a place to experience, to waste time doing what can be done just as easily at home, that is, read books! I’ll philosophize when I get back home.
Owen &Jack were doing tv of paper airplane construction and flying. The trick is not to cause them to have lift or they willpull up into a loop—with more space
they would continue in loop after loop. The designs were different than we’ve all made as kids—more folds in the nose in the inside edge of the wings.
We interrupted our work to do some special TV—I took 2 of the M309 /Т-20 pressure bottles put a twin boom sunshield pole between them and taped that up. I then put some red tape and marked 500 on each. We now had a “1000-lb barbell". We showed Jack with Owen and I lifting the barbell up to Jack. He grimaced till he was red as he lifted it up. . . He lifted it again and as he came to full up he released his triangle shoe locks and kept going off the top of the camera field of view!
We then did the Bean push up—both hands first, then with Jack on my back, then also Owen on his back—then a one arm push up then the finale a no arm push up with all 3. The piece-de-resistance was a 3 man high with Owen at the bottom, me in the middle and Jack on the top. Owen was great. He wobbled around like we were toppling. We now must put it all on movies to use after we get back. — Funny, you never know what movies people will find funny—It gives a welcome relief from the science we do.
Out the wardroom window we saw a bright red light with a bright/dim period of10 sec. It got brighter and drifted along with us for 20 min. or more. I said it was Mars but Jack & Owen said a satellite—it was because it also was moving relative to the stars. It may have been very near, it was the brightest object we’ve seen.
Also saw a laser beam from Goddard. It looked like a long green rod perhaps as long as your fingernail held at arm’s length when viewed end on, that is 20 times longer than in length (which was parallel to the horizon) than in width. Tomorrow the ground will tell us that Goddard did not have our trajectory right and did not point at us—we may have seen the side view somehow. Owen said at the time a laser should appear only as a bright point oflight and not a bar.
Entry -3 day. CSM checks went well— somehow I knew they would. We only look at the g&n [guidance and navigation] and the real problem might be the RCS [Reaction Control System, with the failed thrusters]. Well, we’ll know soon enough. There’s no reason to believe anything’s wrong with the two remaining quads. The days can’t pass fast enough. We have done our job and are ready to get back. At least I am, I don’t know about Jack, but Owen would like to stay.
Another full day. [Lasted until] An hour after scheduled bedtime. . . Al and
Jack saw laser on one pass. I missed it, twice. Tomorrow again… “Ice Cream” party tonite… [Jack s wife] Gratia said our “stunts” were on national tv! Oh well.
atm about [shut] down. . . I’ll miss old Skylab. Really hate to leave for a variety of reasons. Mostly all the unique things to do and see. A geographer’s paradise. Jack and I would both like to spend days at the window w/ camera. Next time!
While the crew had early on abandoned always eating meals as a group in favor of increased productivity, the “ice cream parties” were one social occasion that remained a part of the routine throughout the mission. The crew had arranged their menus such that they all ate ice cream on the same nights.
“On one of these occasions we all gathered around the wardroom window to eat ice cream and strawberries and watch our ground passage all across Spain, Italy, the Mediterranean, Greece to the Near East,” Garriott said. “Another memorable experience, keeping in mind the history of Western Civilization!”
That experience was one that stayed with Bean also. “We could look out the window and eat,” he said, recalling that the area around the Mediterranean Sea looked “just like an atlas, except it seems like there was a volcano making smoke. I remember those as really nice times.”
While the view of Earth from an orbiting vehicle is universally hailed by anyone who has seen it as an unforgettable experience, Bean said he was also awed looking out at the spacecraft he called home. “I can remember being amazed looking out the windows at the structure of the Skylab,” he said. “How heavy and big. These beams were big; the things that rotated the atm were just huge. And here it was up in orbit, and going about 17,000 miles an hour, and you think it’s a fragile spaceship, but really it’s more like a bridge. It’s more like one of those old bridges that you cross that have all those trusses. It reminded me of that. In fact, there were trusses all over this thing. That was always amazing to me, how much heavy weight there was.”
The crew, and Lousma in particular, had made national television earlier in the mission with the video tours of their home, featuring a glimpse of life in space, complete with such mundane, yet out-of-this-world tasks as a weightless haircut. “It was fun to do them, because you could be humorous, and show everybody what it was like,” Lousma said.
On to the “overage food". Lots of meals left— tuna and bread for lunch. Pork loin and asparagus for dinner.
When the Skylab workshop was launched, it carried with it provisions for all three crews. They were divided up according to the nominal mission lengths—one twenty-eight-day increment and two fifty-six-day increments. In addition, however, additional provisions (the “overage” Garriott mentioned) were included in anticipation of the possibility that one or more of the missions might exceed the nominal length. Despite the overage provisions, however, members of the third crew have reported that some of their provisions seemed to be missing by the time they reached Skylab; most notably strawberry drinks and butter cookies.
Food was not the only item affected by the mission duration limitations, either. Jack Lousma explained, with tongue planted firmly in cheek when discussing his crew’s virtuosity respecting their successors’ supplies: “One of the things, of course, on the Skylab was that most all of our equipment and gear and food and clothing and whatever didn’t go up on the [separate crew launches] to get there, but they went on the original launch of the Skylab.
“And when we got up there, we were all scheduled to have a certain amount of everything. There was a group of stuff for the first crew, and they pretty much kept to their stuff; they didn’t get into ours. And there was a certain amount for the second crew — that was us. And we pretty well confined ourselves to our stuff. We didn’t get into the third crew’s stuff at all.
“Actually, what we did was, we knew we were supposed to be up there fifty-six days, or whatever multiple would get us over the landing site and that these guys were going to be up there fifty-six days too. We wanted to stay longer than them.
“So at Day 40 or so, we asked if we could stay ten more days. It went in multiples of five; every fifth day you were over the right landing site. And Mission Control deliberated on that for about a week. And they finally came back about Day 50 and said, ‘You guys have used up your food—or you will—and you’ve used up your film. And we don’t want you getting into the supplies for the third crew.’
“We wouldn’t do that anyway; we were very careful about that. But on the other hand, we were having somewhat of a problem because we were limited in our supplies of underwear. The plan was we would all have a change
of underwear every two days for [the planned mission lengths]— twenty – eight days, fifty-six days, fifty-six days.
“Since there were no laundry facilities on the Skylab space station, soiled clothing was jettisoned into the evacuated lox tank via the Trash Airlock and was replaced with new clothing. The allocation was for one change of outer garments every two weeks and one change of underwear every two days. So the ground had the delicate dilemma of deciding how to provide enough sets of skivvies for both crews from a carefully calculated, limited supply without compromising the duration of the present and next missions, the doctors’ hygiene restrictions, and especially the crews’ most personal expectations with respect to living and working in space with the same comfort to which they had become accustomed with regular changes to clean skivvies.
“On the morning of the last appointed day of the last set of skivvies, it became clear the ground had solved this problem, at least to their satisfaction. The answer was uplinked on the teleprinter while the crew slept.
“The solution to this problem was printed in a common humor form of the era known as a ‘Good News, Bad News’ joke. The message was: ‘With respect to today’s regular change of underwear, we have Good News and Bad News for you.
‘The Good News is: You will get to change your underwear today!
‘The Bad News is: Al, you change with Owen; Owen, you change with Jack; and Jack, you change with Al!’
“All of this was in keeping with a motto the Skylab 11 crew shared among themselves: ‘Never lose your sense of humor!’ ”
The final eva of the mission was the shortest of the three, with a duration of less than three hours. Garriott again ventured outside, this time accompanied by Bean, on his only eva not taken on the surface of another world. The pair retrieved their second and final set of film canisters out of the atm for the return to Earth, just days away. They also picked up one of the two parasol material samples that had been put out on the previous eva.
As with the second eva, Bean found it a difficult decision to choose who would go on the final spacewalk. According to the original plan, at this point Garriott would have gone on both of the first two spacewalks, and Lousma and Bean would have had one eva each. Instead, both of the other two crewmembers had two spacewalks, so Bean had to decide which of them would get a third.
On Mission Day 43, Bean wrote in his diary: “Made a decision for Owen & I to do the eva. Talked it over with Jack before I asked Owen—Reason was that he would probably get another chance to fly & to eva, but Owen would not. In my opinion Owen has made this spaceflight much more interesting than it could have been with three operational types.”
Ironically not only would Garriott fly again, but he would end up with a longer total spaceflight duration than Lousma, who also only made one Shuttle flight. Neither, however, would ever go on another eva.
For Bean the spacewalk was an unforgettable experience, unlike anything else he encountered during spaceflight. The highlight was a darkened halforbit with no responsibilities. While he was working on the instrument doors on the atm, the ground radioed up that they would need to test the doors in the light and thus told him they just needed him to wait out the roughly thirty-five-minute night pass. “They said, ‘We want you to stay out there overnight, and then when the morning comes, then we’ll test the doors.’ “So I had nothing to do then for the night pass, and I remember we weren’t in night yet, we were going into it across the Mediterranean, looking down at Italy and Sicily, with the volcano [Mt. Etna]. Next, looking down at Egypt, the Nile Delta was very obvious.
“Off in the distance was Israel and Saudi Arabia, and it was dark there. I could see the flares from all these oil rigs, and they were just all over the place. Most of them were in the water, in the Persian Gulf, though I couldn’t tell it then, but when we got closer I could, ’cause it was still sort of dark on the ground, light where we were. I remember thinking that was an amazing sight.”
“And then, I’d been a gymnast in college, so I kicked out of the foot restraints and did a handstand on the handholds there, and I felt like I’d set the world record handstand for height and speed. I remember that as fun. Then we came back into the daylight.”
Another memory that stands out for Bean from his Skylab eva experience was, after the Airlock Module was depressurized, first egressing through the open hatch into open space. “I can remember that being more scary than the hatch on the moon,” he said. “Because the hatch on the moon was smaller and you went out backwards. And also when you went out, you were looking at the door and the frame and then you looked over here, and there’s
the dirt. It wasn’t like you were going to fly away [The moon even provides about one-sixth of the Earth’s gravitational force]. When that hatch opened on Skylab, and we were sitting there looking out, it just seemed like we could fall out! I mean, there was nothing there.
“As I tell people if they ask, it was much more science fiction to go eva in Skylab than it was to go eva on the moon. The eva on the moon was much like training; you were in light, the sky was black, but everything else was the same. You were standing there, like we trained over and over. But when you go eva in space, it’s like crawling out the window on an airliner and just going along the wing, and looking in the engine. I mean, something that would be impossible to do. But I think it’s the nearest analogue to what we actually do on eva. We crawl out on the vehicle, and go along the side, and there’s nothing you can do on Earth like that.”
Finally, after nearly two months in space, the time had come to return to Earth. Of course, leaving Skylab meant that at least two more adventures still remained for the crew. The first, more immediate and dramatic, was reentry. Back on the planet below, the rescue-mission crew had proved in the simulator that it would be safe for the three astronauts to return home in their crippled Apollo spacecraft. Now, however, it was time to move those procedures out of the simulator and into real life, maneuvering home with the two thruster quads still available. Once that adventure was complete, the second would begin. Though perhaps less exciting than the former, the second adventure would last longer and prove to be a bit more challenging—readjusting to life on Earth after living for two months in weightlessness.
Backup crewmember Vance Brand was among those waiting in the control room during reentry. He, Don Lind, and others had spent a lot of time developing and testing the procedures the crew would use to fly their spacecraft home. Now, it was time to put those procedures to the ultimate test. The atmosphere in Mission Control, Brand recalled, was a mixture of confidence and concern as the astronauts began their return to Earth. “We were confident, but you know any little thing could mess it up, so nobody was overconfident,” he said. “We expected success.”
By and large the actual reentry flight was not too much more stressful than it ever is to fly a superheated metal box down from hundreds of miles high at speeds many times faster than the speed of sound. After procedural adjustments made to compensate for the locked-out thrusters, the crew
38. A long pole was used to extend the film canisters to Garriott at the sun end of the atm.
managed to return to Earth without serious problems, other than some difficulty in reading the deorbit checklist.
The checklist of course had been revised in the wake of the thruster failures, and Bean had made extensive notes above, below, and in the margins on almost every line all the way through the book. When Garriott began to read the checklist, he found it extremely difficult to make out Bean’s distinctive handwriting during the dynamic reentry phase. Further, he had not participated with Bean on any of the rehearsals of these procedures. So he was almost lost in trying to read the sequence of these very critical steps.
Garriott said he was considerably embarrassed by not being able to help Bean more by reading the extensively modified deorbit procedures to him, allowing Alan to focus on just “doing the right thing.” Bean recalled: “The thing I remember about reentry was not positioning some rcs switches correctly. We got behind and Owen could not read my notes in the checklist because of the limited space (and my ‘unique penmanship’). I said, ‘Give me the book, and I’ll reconfigure the switches.’ So he gave me the book; then I reconfigured a few. I had a lot of other things going on, and I didn’t reconfigure them all. About ten minutes later, we began to drift out of attitude and we got a master alarm, and I then reconfigured the rest. I switched to ‘direct’ and returned to the proper attitude.”
Lousma recalled the transition from weightlessness to four – G during reentry,
as well as the unforgettable view: “Facing aft during entry, Al and I could watch our fireball. It was about four feet in diameter and about forty feet behind the cm. It was like flying in a cone of flame which extended from the cm to the fireball formed by ionized gases and particles from the ablative heat shield. The fireball would dance rapidly around its central location but would break up when the roll thrusters fired, after which it would quickly reform. There was a frequent, loud banging noise right next to our heads when the roll thrusters fired followed by frequent right and left rolling maneuvers to keep the cm on trajectory.”
They soon began to feel atmospheric drag increasing, and eventually the smaller stabilizing parachutes opened, and then the three large main chutes opened to slow the Command Module down for a splash into the ocean. “Entry was very dynamic in terms of sound, sight, and physical sensations,” Lousma said. “At 25,000 feet, there was a loud, clanging noise as the nose-cone ring was explosively jettisoned to expose the parachutes. It tumbled away, and we were jerked into our seats as the two, small, white drogue chutes were deployed on long lanyards above the cm to slow it down and stabilize it for main chute deployment. At 10,000 feet, the drogue chutes were cut loose. There was a rapid sinking feeling until the main parachutes unfurled into a partially open, ‘reefed’ configuration so as not to tear the panels in the parachutes. In a few seconds, the reefing cords were automatically severed to allow the main parachutes to open fully for the remainder of the descent into the Pacific Ocean.”
Apollo Command Modules were designed to remain stable in the water in two different positions. The more preferable of the two was called “Stable 1” and involved the narrower nose end of the cm pointed toward the sky with the crew lying on their backs inside. The second stable floating mode, Stable 2, was the inverse of the first. In Stable 2, the Command Module settled upside down, with the heat shield on the wide end of the cone facing upward and leaving the upside-down crewmen literally hanging in their seat straps.
When the crew’s Command Module landed in the water, it settled into Stable 2. Then a switch was thrown, inflating several small balloons near the apex of the spacecraft. As the bags inflated, they slowly tipped it back to an upright position from which it would eventually be lifted out of the water to the deck of the uss New Orleans, the recovery ship. The crew remained in the capsule while it was hoisted so that the flight surgeon could make measurements before they got out of the spacecraft.
“The frogmen were in the water immediately after splashdown,” Lous – ma said. “One of them looked in my window to determine our status while we were still in the Stable 2 orientation and while we were pumping air into the three spherical air bladders on the nose of the cm to change its buoyancy so it could rotate nose up. ‘Hanging from the ceiling’ in one-G was uncomfortable after two months of weightlessness. The cm is not a good boat, either, especially upside down.”
On the ship, Garriott, who had no interest in using the shower on Sky – lab, finally got his chance to enjoy the real thing. “I had my first real shower in two months and it sure felt good,” he recalled. Although trained to take short Navy showers after three years of sea duty on destroyers, an exception was made for this one—long, warm, and pleasant.
He also found that when he turned off the wall light in his sleeping compartment, he realized that he could not walk to the bunk without falling over. His vestibular system was completely deconditioned, and only his eyes were of much use to determine what was up or down. “So, back ‘on’ with wall switch, go to bunk and turn on bunk light, then wall switch ‘off’ and back to the bunk,” he said. It was several days before the otoliths could be trusted to provide a good sense of what was up and down in complete darkness.
After preliminary medical tests on the uss New Orleans, the ship steamed back to San Diego. Garriott recalled being greeted by a friendly face when the recovery ship finally made port. Throughout the mission the crew had complained about the tedious and, in their opinion, unnecessary constant calibrations they were required to make on the mass measuring devices. Garriott had made a note to complain vigorously to the principal investigator for these devices, fellow astronaut (and smeat crewmember) Dr. Bill Thornton, when he saw him.
“When we docked in San Diego, the first person I saw on the pier was Bill, carrying the biggest bottle of champagne I’ve ever seen and wearing a grin from ear to ear, a lengthy stretch of real estate,” Garriott said. “My resolve evaporated in moments. Bill may not even know my original intent until he reads this.”
On the water, it was ok,” Alan Bean said. “I felt heavy, but not especially
weak or anything. And so they hoisted us out of the water, and they started taking us out. We had our G-suits inflated, which I thought was a waste of time until I stood up. And then they brought us out of the Command Module and helped us, which I didn’t think we needed. I’ll tell you now, I think we really needed it a lot!
“They set us down in chairs. And I can remember sitting in those chairs for a ceremony on TV, and I can remember thinking, ‘I hope this gets over soon because I just don’t feel good.’ I didn’t think I would faint, but I didn’t feel right. So I wasn’t into any ceremony; I was more interested in lying down. So we sat down with our legs apart. We were all sitting wide stance because of our lack of stability.
“We got through that. I felt like I faked it through because I didn’t let anybody know how much I wanted to lie down. Then they had to walk us down to sickbay for tests. I can remember walking along with the doctors on either side and thinking, ‘They don’t need to be there.’ But twice, maybe three times, during the walk, I suddenly pitched left to right, and they held me up, kept me from falling. And I can remember saying, ‘Boy, this ship is sure rolling,’ and they didn’t say, ‘No, it’s you,’ which they knew it was, but I didn’t because it didn’t make sense that I could suddenly pitch left or right. I never knew that was the problem initially. I don’t ever remember having vestibular problems, ever again. It was later that I began to understand that the ship never rolled, it was me pitching off. So it wasn’t that I was dizzy, it was like I suddenly lost my balance.
“And so we got down to the test facility, and the NASA doctors laid us on a table and started monitoring us, and boy, it sure felt good to lie down. After a while, they deflated my G-suit, and then they had me sit up for awhile and watched my blood pressure and pulse. I guess the blood pressure went down and the pulse went up, or whatever it does, they never said, because they didn’t want to affect the data, I guess, but I could tell.
“Then they had me lie down again. I can remember going through this period and not really feeling good, wanting to lie down all the time. That’s what I wanted to do. But they wanted to get me physically ready to ride the exercise bike again. So they sat me up again and looked at my vital signs. After a time they had me stand up. Well, my pulse and blood pressure didn’t like standing up, so the doctors had me sit down.
“During this time, other doctors were performing the same evaluations
on Owen and Jack. I could see both were further along in recovery than I was. That was motivation for me to do better, but there was nothing I knew to do. And we’d hold on, but I wanted to lie down. Finally they got me on the bike. I think I was the last one on the bike. But, I got on the bike and rode the bike. I’m sure I didn’t do very well, but I didn’t faint or anything; and I sure was glad to lie down again.
“We probably did the lbnp, which I probably had to punch off without fainting, because several times in orbit I had to punch off or nearly had to punch off [that is, relieve the negative pressure on the lower half of your torso, which tends to pool blood in your legs and may cause fainting]. For me, the toughest thing in flight was the lbnp. I dreaded that thing. Because I really had to concentrate almost like when you’re pulling G s to keep conscious in aircraft acrobatic maneuvers. I’ve since found out that I’m a low – blood-pressure guy. It’s just something that’s good in a way to be low-blood – pressure, but it’s bad in that way.
“I remember then for the next two or three days, not wanting to either sit up or stand up much, so every chance I got, in debriefing or anywhere else, I’d lie down. I’d get out of my chair and lie down on the floor and prop my head up and talk. It took me two or three days to finally feel normal. It probably took some time to get the lbnp and bicycle ergometer back to normal as well.”
Lousma also recalled obligations dragging by after his return: “Upon return, we had a really long day. We had to get ready to come home and get picked up. We felt like going to bed when we got back, and the doctors wanted to keep us up and do all these medical experiments. I remember just really being up longer and feeling more tired than I imagined I would be, to get all the medical stuff done on the deck on the ship.
“The medics weren’t always best friends with some of the guys, but I never felt that way about them. We cooperated with them no matter what it was, to do an experiment or to do some preflight test or postflight tests, whatever they wanted to do to get their job done.”
As the crew’s readjustment progressed, routine tasks occasionally took on new complications. Moving a suitcase on his first night back in his stateroom, Bean pinched a disc in his back and had to receive treatment for it. A couple of times, getting out of bed during the night to go to the bathroom, he
fell to the floor while attempting a floating move similar to what he would have done in orbit. “I didn’t get hurt or anything, but I thought, ‘That’s weird,’ ” he recalled.
Lousma said that it took between four days and a week for his vestibular system to fully readapt to life on Earth. “I don’t remember having a big vestibular problem. I don’t remember having vertigo or feeling dizzy. The vestibular response that took the longest was to walk in a straight line,” he said. “Our muscles and our brains didn’t work together on lateral motions, because we hadn’t simulated any of this straight-ahead bicycling motion. We were strong, but we hadn’t used those sensors that are used to do lateral. I remember getting back to the office in Houston in a big wide hall. I’d be going somewhere, and all of a sudden I find myself on the other side of the hall, and I didn’t mean to be there. I wasn’t falling over, but I meandered for three or four days, probably, something like that. Your whole sensory system recalibrates itself.”
It took a similar amount of time for his body to return to something resembling the condition it was in before the mission. “The doctors said I was back in my preflight shape in six days,” Lousma said. “That’s overall. But when I got back, I felt lightheaded when we had to stand up. We had less blood volume, I think, and fewer red cells. For the first week or so when I went home, when there were things to be done, I didn’t feel bad, I just felt lazy.”
Other elements of the readjustment, though, took a little longer. “I measure myself on how fast I can run two miles, and I have that pretty well documented personally. I was running two miles between 12 :зо and 13 [minutes]. I shot for less than thirteen minutes. I guess 12:2$ was the fastest I ever ran, but I could usually come in around 12:45. I was under thirteen on a regular basis. If I wasn’t, I was disappointed. It took three weeks to return to the same speed as I had left with. So it all depends on how you measure it.”
Like Bean, Lousma had a moment or two when he forgot to take into account the effects of living in a one-G environment. “That first night on the ship, we were in sickbay, I guess. I was in a bed with rails on it,” he said. Noticing that the door was ajar and letting in light, Lousma decided to get up and go close it. “I grabbed hold of those rails and was going to float over there, and I didn’t go anywhere.
“One of the funny things that happened, after I was home for about five days or so, I was shaving one morning. I use shaving lotion, and got myself
all shaved up.” He picked up the shaving lotion with one hand and attempted to toss it to the other with the sort of quick push that would have done the job on Skylab. On Earth of course the bottle dropped immediately. “Pow, right in the sink. Smashed the whole bottle.”
For Alan Bean the conclusion of Skylab II was not only the highlight of the mission, but also one of the proudest moments of his life. “It sounds strange, but for me, it was when we landed on the water. I felt like—and I still feel this way — that we had given the best we had for fifty-nine days,” he said. “That meant a lot, and still does mean a lot. I felt like that mission was from my viewpoint the highlight of my career, as being the best astronaut that I could be. I felt like our crew was the best crew we could be because we had done the best we could. We got sick; we couldn’t help that. We bundled along. And then we went normally, and then we went to overdrive to catch up, and then we passed. So we ended up coming with a great percent.”
He said that he was very proud of a report published after the mission summarizing the crew’s accomplishments, reflecting the fact that they had accomplished 150 percent of their assigned objectives. On 12 October 1973, the top headline ofJohnson Space Center’s “Roundup” newsletter read “sL-3 ‘Supercrew’ Gets 150 % of Mission Goals”. It continued:
Although the Skylab-3 mission has been completed, scientists and principal investigators will be busy for years analyzing data from the experiments performed by astronauts Bean, Lousma and Garriott.
Kenneth Kleinknecht, Skylab Program Office manager, said at the post-flight press conference that the crew brought back to Earth more than 150 percent of their goal in scientific data.
“With the longer duration mission, the crew gets more proficient because of in-flight training and experience. . . .” Kleinknecht said.
Reg Machel, manager of the Orbital Assembly Project Office said that several new things which had never been observed before were recorded in this mission.
Among these new items are coronal holes, or voids in the sun’s corona. Experimenters found that the velocity changes of the gasses and of the material moving across the sun were much higher than anticipated. Data was also gathered on major solar flares.
Over 10,000 frames were taken with the multispectral camera, 2,000 frames with the Earth terrain camera and 25,000 frames with the visual tracking system. The multispectral scanner, infrared spectrometer and micro wave sensors recorded over po, ooo feet of magnetic tape data. “The vts film turned out to be better in this mission than the previous mission from a standpoint of resolution and clarity of Earth sites. This Earth resources data is about three times the amount of data gathered on Skylab 2,"Machel said.
Also, the beginning and ending stages of tropical storm Christine were covered as were African drought areas, Mt. Etna—an active volcano and a severe storm in Oklahoma.
“I’ve always been proud of this,” Bean said recently of the article. “That’s why I have it in my briefcase, even though I haven’t looked at it for a long time; I’ve had it there. We were called a ‘supercrew.’ We were. Nobody had done that. We did, compared to previous mission estimates, more than any crew had ever done in any program, and we started out behind. So we really were as great as we could be. I’ve felt good about that. That’s the primary feeling I have about Skylab, is just ‘Wow, we did what we wanted to do. We did the best we could do.’ ”
“You have to find a way to accomplish the goal. We were able to do that. We went fifty-six days, and three more. Even with all the thruster problems, we accomplished the goal.”
Jack Lousma said: “Maybe the best way to characterize it for me was the final impression I had when we were rolling around in the Command Module on the water. I felt the most professionally satisfied I have ever felt, with the exception of the Columbia mission I commanded, about equal, I guess.
“That number one, we were alive, and number two, we did a good job. We’d not only done the best we could, but we got it all done and really did a good job. That was the most rewarding professional sense I ever had, was on both flights, and that professional satisfaction lasted a long time after the Skylab mission. If I had never flown another mission, I would have been a satisfied guy that I’d done a good job on my spaceflight and had been professionally rewarded.”
Owen Garriott said: “I have asked myself, to whatever extent it is true, what are the reasons for our success on this mission? No doubt a commitment to doing the best one can was important and even Alan’s ‘positive mental attitude’ was to some degree contagious. An adequate degree of competence is obviously essential.
“But the one overriding characteristic of our flight, even the whole Sky – lab program, is that of team spirit. We had it to a greater degree than experienced in any other group I’ve been involved with in my career. How else can the ten-day effort to ‘Save Skylab’ be explained, after all the problems that arose when Skylab was launched on May 14, 1973 ? The thousands of Skylab Team members had it too.
“I believe it was that unquenchable team spirit that was the most important single characteristic responsible for our success and that of the whole program. It should not be overlooked that this characteristic is definable and teachable in other situations for those who are willing to make the not insignificant commitment to maximum achievement.”