The Skylab Medical Plan

On Skylab, for the very first time, life sciences were not just along for the ride—they were going to have top priority as a mission goal. And the NASA life sciences people—despite their organizational fragmentation, differenc­es of opinion, and constant criticism from outside—responded to the chal­lenge with a well-planned, ambitious set of experiments.

One group would test the cardiovascular system, studying heart function during exercise and simulated gravity (using lower body negative pressure). Another would be a very careful metabolic balance experiment with exact

The Skylab Medical Plan

44- Weitz assists Kerwin with a blood-pressure cuff.

measurement of all intake and output combined with pre-and postflight mea­surement of bone loss using gamma ray densitometry, more accurate than the x-rays used in Gemini. Yet another would measure the body’s respons­es to the stress of flight by measuring hormone levels in blood samples col­lected and frozen in flight—and observe whether the trend to a reduction in blood volume and red blood cell mass was continuing. And one would intensively evaluate the vestibular balance system in the inner ear, suspect­ed to be the culprit in space motion sickness. There were cleverly designed “scales” capable of measuring the “weight” (the mass actually) of the astro­nauts, of any food and drink they were supposed to eat but didn’t, and of their feces. There was even a special cap to measure and record brain waves during sleep, looking at duration and depth. The scientist members of the crews got to wear that one.

All these experiments would be carried out during flight, not just before and after, thanks to the ample size and weight of Skylab. But designing them to be carried out successfully was still an enormous challenge. The food sys­tem would have to accommodate the metabolic balance experiment. Feeding the crews was a pretty big part of getting ready for Skylab. Astronauts have to eat, and on this mission they’d have to eat for a long time. So there were a lot of requirements and considerations jostling each other for priority:

1. Learning how to package foods to be consumed in zero gravity.

2. Launching all the food for all three missions aboard the Skylab workshop because the Apollo spacecraft used as the crew’s taxicab wasn’t big enough to hold it. That meant selecting food treated and packaged to have a year-long shelf life in space—not the best setup for tasty meals.

3. Giving the crews food they’d like—making mealtime a positive experience on these long and isolated missions.

4. Keeping them well nourished, which is not the same thing as giving them food they’d like.

5. And last but definitely not least, discovering what happens to nutri­tional needs during long periods in weightless spaceflight. This would be one of the most important medical experiments.

Storage on orbit for up to a year at “pantry” temperatures was the most severe environment yet for space food. It ruled out fresh food, food that required refrigeration—any food you’d throw away at home if it hadn’t been eaten after a month or two. Both weight and spoilage considerations dictat­ed that the food should not be stowed mixed with water. If soup was want­ed, dried soup was stowed, and the water was added just before eating. So a lot of rehydratable food, from orange juice to spaghetti, was on the menu. Adding water doesn’t work for certain foods—for example, bread. The solu­tion here was to irradiate it for preservation, then vacuum-pack it. Unfor­tunately, vacuum-packing sucks most of the air out of bread, making it an unpalatable paste. Bread was not a hit. But the sugar cookies—food system specialist Rita Rapp’s own recipe—were delicious.

Foods that were to be served hot were packed in plastic bags, and the bags packed snugly in little flat round cans. The routine was as follows: open the can, add water to the food through a nozzle, smush it around to mix

the food and water, put it back in the can, put the can in a fitted receptacle in an airline-style tray, and turn on the electric strip heater. An hour or so later, the item would be hot. This system worked well. It was a little time­consuming; one crewman would usually prepare three meals an hour or so ahead of time. And it did generate a lot of trash. Hot coffee was achieved a different way; the crew just added hot water to the instant coffee and shook instead of smushing.

Once the Skylab food system, or galley, was developed, the big question was, how many different kinds of food would be provided, and how much of each? And that’s where the scientists came in. Their working hypothesis was that flying in space was like resting in bed, immobilized by illness or perhaps multiple fractures. You were in “negative metabolic balance.” You lost appetite and lost weight, and muscles not used began to atrophy. It was intuitively obvious that in space many muscles weren’t used much (those used for climbing stairs, for example). The energy needed for normal body activity must therefore decrease, and the need for food would decrease in proportion.

Along came Dr. G. Donald Whedon, an experienced and prestigious researcher, with a diet plan for Skylab. He proposed that all Skylab crewmen consume a diet of 2,400 calories per day, below their Earth-bound needs. The diet would contain precise amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and other electrolytes and specified amounts of protein and fat with very little variance allowed. Some additional carbohydrates—’’empty calories” such as lemon drops—were allowed if the men were still hungry. Menus would be made up with enough variety to provide a six-day cycle, which would then repeat.

The crews would eat this diet for eighteen days both before and after flight. And—here’s the key— both before, during, and after flight, every gram of matter that entered or left their bodies would be weighed and ana­lyzed. Thus, whether the men were gaining or losing calcium from the bones or nitrogen from the muscles would be known with precision. It was a love­ly experiment. But it gave rise to some practical problems.

First was standardizing the diet. The crew violently objected to the assump­tion that all of them would have to consume the same amount of food. Alan Bean weighed 150 pounds and had consumed less than 2,000 calories daily on his Apollo 12 flight. Jack Lousma weighed a fit 195 pounds and ate more than 3,000 calories a day on Earth. There was no way they could both be constrained to 2,400. The second problem was that the 2,400 number had been calculated based on the assumption that during spaceflight metabol­ic demands decreased and so did calorie consumption. This might hap­pen, the crew argued, but it was unproven; and even if it did happen, it was wrong to put the men on the in-flight diet for nearly three weeks before and after flight.

On і March 1971 Deke Slayton wrote a memo stating in part, “We are not raising goose livers, and it is unreasonable and unrealistic to force-feed astro­nauts.” Finally, the investigators agreed to tailor each crewman’s diet to his usual intake. A week-long test using prototype flight food was organized, and the results used to construct the in-flight diets. Instead of merging all nine men into one data set, each one would serve as his own control. Feed­ing the flight diet before launch was retained, however. Sure enough, eight of the nine crewmen lost weight during the eighteen days before launch.

Another problem was, how do you weigh things in weightlessness? It’s true; Justice’s scales are useless in space. The little weights would just float away. But objects in space still have mass—they just don’t have gravity pull­ing that mass against the scales. So Dr. Bill Thornton invented an ingenious device to measure the mass without using gravity. His theory was this: if you attach an object to the free end of a strip of spring steel, clamp the other end, and give the object a push, the steel will oscillate back and forth. And the heavier the object—or rather, the greater its mass—the more slowly will it oscillate. So you have only to attach whatever you want to measure, start it oscillating, and measure the time it takes to complete three back-and-forth movements—the “period” of the spring and mass. Skylab adopted Bill’s principle, and the Air Force built one large device for measuring the mass of the astronauts, and two small ones, for measuring food residue, feces, and other small amounts of substances and small items. Given the oppor­tunity, Dr. Whedon’s team wanted to measure the mass of everything to the greatest accuracy possible:

1. The bags used to capture feces came secured with green tape; the crews were instructed to “weigh” the tape, separately, each time they used a bag.

2. They were then asked to mass measure each used fecal bag “wet” before putting it into a vacuum oven, where it was dried for return to Earth.

3. Both large and small masses were requested to be “weighed” to six significant figures—less than a hundredth of a pound for people, and a thousandth of a gram for food residue. That called for averag­ing many repeated weighings.

Whedon’s team explored several methods for sampling sweat, but final­ly gave it up as impractical. They knew there would be considerable sweat­ing but estimated that only a small percentage of the controlled minerals would be lost by this route. “The problem with these procedures was that we’d be spending an inordinate amount of time in flight doing them,” Ker – win recalled. “With only three people aloft, eighty experiments to conduct, and a hotel to run, we needed everything streamlined and every nonessen­tial task deleted. We compromised. The investigators would use the aver­age weight of the green tape. We agreed to the many repetitions necessary to calibrate the mass-measurement devices in-flight to maximum accuracy, and they agreed not to require that accuracy in daily use.

“We also made another promise to ourselves. The rule was, if you didn’t eat all of a food item, you had to weigh the residue to keep accurate track of your intake. We vowed that if we started a food item, we’d finish it, and avoid having to weigh it.”

Many people in the medical field were involved in these issues, but the crew’s principal point of contact for the experiment was Dr. Paul C. Ram – baut, who functioned as the principal investigator’s principal coordinating scientist. Crewmembers argued, agreed, and compromised with Rambaut for several years. In January 1970 he wrote, “The proposed in-flight proce­dures do indeed involve excessive and unproductive use of crew time for manual manipulation of food, water and waste. This situation is unfortu­nate and its correction has so far eluded the most vigorous protests of the Medical Directorate.”

What Rambaut meant was that the Medical Directorate had fought hard for fully automated systems for collection and measurement of food and waste but had been spurned by the program manager because it would take too long, cost too much, and no one knew how to do it. The Medical Directorate was willing to make things as easy as possible for the crews. But they were absolutely not willing to compromise the validity of their exper­iments. In Apollo they had had to stand aside for operations. Skylab was their mission.

Progress was made during 1970. While the engineers were figuring out how to package soup in peel-top cans, NASA’s nutritionists were working on the menu. By August a list of seventy-two items was given to the crew for evaluation, and shortly thereafter their deletions and additions were tak­en into account. Out went the strawberry wafers, the lobster bisque, and the cheese soup; in went the German potato salad, peanut butter, and—in a move that would prove lucky later on—the Carnation Instant Breakfast. There were five soups, ten drinks, twenty-seven meat-and-fish items includ­ing chili with no beans, eight veggies, seventeen desserts and snacks, and five breakfast foods. The contract was issued (to Whirlpool, a washing machine manufacturer!) and food production planning began.

One of the new items accepted was frozen prime rib. Frozen? Yes! The program office had agreed to provide food freezers with enough capacity for about four hundred of the little food cans—almost enough to provide one frozen item per crewman per day. (The freezer, though, did not include a refrigerator, so fresh foods that would have to be kept cool were still not an option.) Besides prime rib the choices included filet mignon, buttered rolls, and coffee cake. The investigator objected to ice cream at first, fearing that its high fat content would make it too difficult to fit into the straitjacket of his dietary requirements. But the nutritionists showed that they could do the job, and ice cream was added to the list. This decision and these items were major contributors to crew satisfaction with the food, and the mission.

And then there was item number ten on the beverage list: “Wine (rose or sherry).” As the crewmembers discussed palatability and variety with the experimenters and attempted to make the diet as pleasant as practicable giv­en the constraints, someone said, “Wine is empty calories too! Let’s have some on the menu.” Surely, wine is empty calories by the standards of the experiment—it contains little or no protein or controlled electrolytes. But getting it by the doctors wasn’t so easy. Early in 1971 Deke Slayton wrote a memo requesting several changes to the food system. One of them was the addition of wine. This suggestion was indignantly rejected by the experi­menters. The reply stated, “We disagree with the assertion that the provi­sion of wine is mandatory to make the Skylab Food System flyable. Wine is not a necessary component of any nutritional regimen in any environment to which human beings are exposed. . . . The principal investigators of the MO71 and mho series of experiments are adamantly opposed to its use.”

The formal objection by the investigators’ representative, Dr. Leo Lutwak, stated, “Alcohol has effect on renal function via inhibition of anti-diuretic hormone. This introduces an additional variable even if consumed in the same amount daily by each man. Possible changes in retention and excre­tion of fluids and of hormones in flight (changes in kidney function with respect to water balance) are an important concern. . . .” But crew represen­tatives argued that if it were backed off to once a week, any effects would be transitory and self-correcting, and the investigators reluctantly concurred. This is how they put it:

Recomm endatio n:

1. Delete all alcoholic beverages from menu.

2. Will accept: a) No wine first two weeks in flight or in first 48 hours post flight. b) 4 oz. ofsherry (or equivalent stability wine) once per week thereafter. ”

The crew accepted this compromise philosophically. The nose of the cam­el was under the tent. Now they had only to select the wine. There were a few requirements. Dr. Lutwak was right; they needed to pick a sherry or other fortified wine that could tolerate storage in plastic for a year or more. Ordinary table wine, red or white, was likely to go bad. The other require­ment was to select an American wine.

A wine-tasting party was set up at Dr. Kerwin’s house on 20 November 1971. Wives were invited but didn’t get to vote. Kerwin had had the pleasure of narrowing down the list to six wines from Taylor, Paul Masson, Ingle – brook, Wente Brothers, Almaden, and Louis Martini. The evaluation sheet outlined the rating code (a modification of the Cooper-Harper scale used by military test pilots to describe the flying qualities of fighter planes) and added these comments:

There are six entries, three dry and three sweet. All are domestic. A couple of import­ed sherries are at the end ofthe table if you care to taste them for reference.

Recommend about У2 ounce for tasting purposes, as medical science cannot cure a wine hangover.

Plastic cups are provided to simulate flight hardware. It is permissible (though not mandatory) to re-use your cup. Rinsing facilities are not available—wipe with napkin or shirtsleeve if desired.

To help you fill out the "comment” line a list of adjectives follows: unpreten­tious, robust, dulcet, uncompromising, reminiscent, ethereal, insouciant, devil – may-care, cynical, Earthy. A more complete list is being compiled for the flight checklist.

The Taylor cream sherry was selected in a close contest, and Rita Rapp set about her packaging duties. But frustration lay ahead.

All of the crewmembers worked in a few public appearances during train­ing. One crewmember (“We won’t tell on you, Jerry,” Kerwin jokes) gave a talk in a southern state in which he mentioned that wine would be served on Skylab in the interest of gracious living and crew morale. Several of the listeners took umbrage at this, and letters began to arrive at NASA and con­gressional offices objecting to government-funded alcohol in space. NASA chose not to argue. Wine was quietly withdrawn from the menu, and the crews’ kidneys were spared.

Despite this setback, the food system came together nicely as launch day neared. Procedures were devised for stowing most of the food in large over­cans in the ring lockers in the upper workshop, each can carefully labeled with crewman, day, and meal. These would be brought down to the ward­room about a week’s worth at a time and arranged, ready for each meal. There was “overage” also stored—extra food in case of spills, substitutions (discouraged), or mission extensions. Much of the overage was devoted to items that wouldn’t affect mineral balance—lemon drops, butter cookies, black coffee. It was a little complicated in the days before bar codes, but everyone tried hard to make it work.

Also on the topic of mineral balance, there were the pills. It was very important to the investigators that the intake of protein, calcium, phos­phorus, and magnesium be held constant. Protein consumption had to be imbedded in the food items themselves, but the minerals could be consumed as supplements. So the following routine was devised: all items not eaten by each crewman were logged and reported to Houston during an evening sta­tus report. If an item was partially eaten, the residue was “weighed” and the weight reported. Overnight, the medical team calculated how much of these minerals had not been consumed, and in the morning a teleprinter message told each man how many calcium, phosphorus, or magnesium pills to take. Munching the morning pills quickly became routine.

As a final gesture of solidarity, the dieticians managed to squeeze a num­ber of fresh items into the crews’ diets during the pre-and postflight quar­antine periods. It was really nice to have a fresh salad with dinner amidst the cans and bags. The meals were pleasant and memorable and contribut­ed to a team spirit that made the hard work of experiment compliance in flight manageable.

The other major intersection between research and operations was exer­cise. It was a design challenge and battleground between the crews, the researchers and, often, the managers. When the Mercury astronauts were selected, there was an enormous emphasis on physical conditioning and toughness based on a complete ignorance of the effects of weightlessness on humans. So the Original Seven, having been exposed to every stress the doctors could think up, concluded that staying in shape was their respon­sibility, and nobody was going to tell them how to do it.

As Mercury and Gemini flights took place during the years 1961 through 1966, all in small capsules with little or no opportunity for exercise and for durations extending to Gemini 7’s fourteen days, a pattern began to emerge. Astronauts had eaten less during flight and returned having lost weight and (subjectively) some strength. There was evidence of a decrease in blood vol­ume and a suspicion that bone density might be decreasing. Normal bodi­ly functions were accomplished with no trouble, and the astronauts did not suffer psychologically — quite the reverse. They loved the weightlessness of space and declared their readiness to go to the moon.

More of the same was seen during Project Apollo. The crews accomplished their lunar surface excursions with enthusiasm and success, but they defi­nitely paid a price, coming home tired and needing several days to recover their preflight weight and strength. Space motion sickness, first reported in the Soviet space program, began to occur in the larger Apollo spacecraft; and there was a bit of a scare on Apollo 15 when the two lunar surface crew­men developed cardiac arrhythmias during the return flight. This was attrib­uted to a loss of fluid and electrolytes, especially potassium, during their extensive lunar surface activities. “No big deal,” said the astronauts, and the missions continued with potassium added to the orange juice. But a case could be made that their strength and endurance, and thus their ability to perform challenging physical tasks such as spacewalks, would be compro­mised on very long flights.

The doctors tried their best to organize an exercise program during Apol­lo. These efforts were rejected. Here is a quotation from a memo from Deke Slayton to Chuck Berry, dated 27 March 1968:

Your recent offer to assist in development of an in-flight exercise program for Apollo is appreciated. . . . I believe it is clearly understood that crew physical conditioning is the responsibility of this Directorate. . . . Our intention is to provide each crew with the means and protocol to maintain a reasonable level ofphysical well-being. We have no intention of complicating the procedure by keying to station passes, data collection points, or dictated work levels. You will be provided the crew’s best qualitative evaluation of their exercise program in the post-flight report.

That was the background for Skylab, which was to be the first opportu­nity for medical researchers to gain extensive in-flight data on human phys­iology in weightlessness. One of the centerpiece medical experiments was to be an exercise tolerance test. The astronauts would exercise on a bicycle ergometer to 75 percent of their maximum preflight capacity, while extensive measurements were made of heart rate, blood pressure, a twelve-lead elec­trocardiogram, oxygen consumption, and carbon dioxide production. The tests would be repeated every four days. The ergometer, without the mea­surements, would be available for exercise on the other days. It maintained good cardio-respiratory conditioning, but did little for strength.

Nobody raised any objection to the test. But there were several problems associated with the use of the ergometer for crew exercise. These ranged from whether and how a bicycle could be ridden in zero-G, and whether the data from zero-G would be comparable to that from pre-and postflight runs, to the question of how much daily exercise was the right amount, and wheth­er the ergometer alone was enough equipment. There was another device onboard, the Exergym—a small rope-and-capstan device that allowed a certain amount of “isokinetic” exercise—leg and arm pulling and push­ing at a constant velocity against a load. It was difficult to use and was used very little.

At the heart of the daily exercise debate was a fundamental issue. In order to understand the effects of long-duration spaceflight on humans, was it best to prescribe and constrain exercise or to let it vary freely and mea­sure and observe what happened? The research community was in favor of prescription. They argued that unless all possible variables could be con­trolled, the changes observed would be difficult, maybe impossible, to inter­pret. They had the science of statistical significance behind them.

The operations community (astronauts and most flight surgeons) was in favor of “measure and observe.” They argued that there was insufficient knowledge to write a good prescription; that there were too many variables whose control would have to be attempted—especially individual varia­tions in exercise tolerance and preflight conditioning; and that more would be learned by allowing the nine crewmembers to react to the environment. Having a spread of in-flight exercise intensity was good, they said; it would provide a chance to see whether a dose-response curve existed. And of course, the crew still had that strong distaste for being regimented.

The Skylab I crew worked out a compromise agreement. They would devise and document both a preflight and an in-flight exercise plan and would care­fully record all in-flight exercise. About six months before launch, the first crew performed their baseline exercise runs on the training version of the ergometer. The ergometer was a good aerobic device; it had been designed to accommodate loads of up to 300 watts for thirty minutes. But Bill Thornton had ridden the training version at 300 watts for nearly an hour and destroyed the motor; henceforth, it was “de-rated” to 250 watts. That turned out to be enough for the Skylab astronauts.

The baselines determined were the watts at which three minutes of ped­aling would stress each crewman to 25 percent, 50 percent and 75 percent of the maximum heart rate of which he was capable; that would be the in-flight protocol. Conrad’s baseline was 50, 80, and 120 watts; Kerwin’s, 50, 100, and 150 watts; Weitz’s, 100, 150, and 175. That’s when Conrad decided it was time to get in shape. He exercised his command authority to require a session of paddleball daily with one or the other of his crewmates. All three improved their conditioning noticeably. But the researchers decided it was too late to change the baseline; the crew ought to have an easy time of it on orbit.

The Sun

how did the sun get in her place with her round and shiny happy face who cast the shadows high and low.

I do not know, I do not know.

Science on the Cheap

One example of the diversity of the scientific experiments on Skylab was a contribution by rescue and backup crewmember Don Lind. During Apol­lo, Lind had worked with Dr. Johannes Geiss of the University of Bern in Switzerland on an experiment that would use thin metal foils to capture solar wind particles on the lunar surface. That relationship would carry over into the genesis of a similar experiment on Skylab.

“When Dr. Geiss came over for the first Apollo launch,” Don Lind said, “he stayed at our home. And he and I were over in the simulator building one day, standing in the Skylab mock-up that was getting ready for this next mission series. And one of the two of us said, ‘Can we do any good sci­ence on Skylab?’

“We said, ‘Hey, we could put some of those foils on the outside struts that hold up the atm’ and we could pick what were called precipitating magne­tospheric particles. These are particles that were coming down the magnet­ic tail of the Earth, headed toward the Earth. When they struck the Earth’s atmosphere, that’s what caused the aurora. Now the assumption was those may be solar particles, because the energy that they had was exactly what the dynamo effect would produce from the solar wind.

“We proposed that this be added to the list of experiments, and it was called S230. Every NASA center had to evaluate all of the experiments, so they sent out this proposal to all the different space centers. Every space center said, ‘We recommend that it not be approved, because all the other experi­ments were approved a year and a half ago, and it’s simply too late.’

“But I knew exactly what had to happen. It was to be mounted on a fab­ric background, so I went over to the guy at Marshall, and said which fab­ric is the best?’ He said ‘armalon,’ so we proposed armalon.

“I went down to the Cape and said, ‘What is the best installation sequence that will not give you guys any problems?’ He said if we would install the sleeve at one point in the countdown and the foil panels at a different time, there would be no stowage problem. That is exactly what we requested.

“So nobody had any reason not to approve it, except that it was, quote ‘too late.’ But there was really no technical objection to it, so it was proposed, and it was the last experiment that came in.

“All the guys had to do on the flight was, every time they went out to pick up the atm film canisters, they had to pass this spot on one of the trusses, and they’d just take off the next foil and bring it in and bring it home and that would expose the next foil below it.

“A typical space experiment costs a million dollars or ten million or some­thing, and it usually weighs a couple hundred pounds, and it takes several hours of astronaut time. Well, our experiment cost $3,500, and it weighed less than ten pounds, and all it did was require an astronaut to take literally thirty seconds to pick up one of these things on a traverse that he was going to do anyway. And we made a significant scientific discovery for $ 3,500.

“Kenny Kleinknecht, who was the head of the Skylab program at that time, said to me one time, ‘Lind, this is my favorite experiment.’ ‘Well, why’s that?’ ‘It’s the cheapest.’”

Pete: “Very good.”

The next day’s erep pass was canceled. Houston realized that there would be no more full passes until and unless the workshop solar wing was freed. Work on that continued with determination. But morale remained high.

Houston (8:30 p. m.): “. . . One of the things we were wondering is, have you learned to ride the portable fan yet?”

Pete: “No, that’s next. We’ve got to master the front and back flips while running on the water ring lockers.”

Mission Day 7 started out on a relaxed note.

Houston: “Skylab, Houston. I’ve got some sad news in this morning’s paper that the blob is dead. I’m sure that Joe will be glad to hear that. And they killed it with nicotine. (Laughter.)”

Joe: “I’d like to be the blob.”

Houston: “Getting to feel it now, huh?” [Not smoking.]

Joe: “You guys are all going nuts down there.”

Paul: “We’re going nuts up here too; the cdr thinks he can fly.”

Houston: “The Astros won a game yesterday, 4 to 1.”

Joe: “Hurray! Are the Cubs still in first place?”

That morning Pete took the Sound Pressure Level Meter out of stowage and toured Skylab, taking measurements. It was a quiet spacecraft. The lev­els in the workshop averaged between forty-five and fifty decibels. The Mul­tiple Docking Adapter returned a reading of fifty-three (the level of a quiet office), and the noisiest compartment was its aft end, the so-called Struc­tural Transition Section leading into the Airlock Module, where the pumps and fans registered sixty-two.

The other noise characteristic of Skylab was due to its atmospheric pres­sure, five pounds per square inch, one-third of an atmosphere. Maybe you’ve hiked high enough on a mountain to notice that up there where the air is thin, sounds are diminished. Skylab was at the equivalent altitude of Mount McKinley, above twenty thousand feet; the silence was eerie. One had to raise one’s voice to be heard by someone ten feet away. Between the work­shop and the Multiple Docking Adapter voice communication was impos­sible; the crew used speaker/intercom boxes to communicate. The good side was that you could play your own music at, say, the Apollo Telescope Mount control panel (each man had his own cassette tape player) and not interfere with the music down in the medical experiment area, where by agreement the subject got to pick the tape.

All three crewmen tried and tried again during their daily exercise peri­ods to conquer the bicycle ergometer — adjusting the harness tighter or loos­er, changing the angle of the floor straps, raising or lowering the seat. Noth­ing worked. Weitz attempted M171 again on Day 7, but the problem hadn’t been solved.

It was still taking too long to do things; the crew was still behind the timeline. Calibrating the Body Mass Measurement Device had Kerwin an hour and a half behind by noon. Houston wanted Weitz to reinstall an experiment. He said, “Okay. Is that in my flight plan?” Houston said yes and Paul said, “Oh, Okay. I hadn’t read that far ahead yet. I’m still trying to catch up. Sorry.”

Pete expressed their frustration this evening:

Pete (6:30 p. m.): . . You guys are slipping things into the pre and post

sleep activities every day, without adding the time. We’ve already given up shaving in the mornings, and we do it at night after 0300 [ 10:00 p. m.]. And your time estimates for small activation tasks have turned out to be com­pletely wrong. . . . Handovers take time. . . . I had alarm clocks going off in my pocket, and if you’ll look back over my plan, I’ve been whistling all over this spacecraft today.”

Neither crew nor schedulers had yet caught on to the secret. The first time you did something complicated in weightlessness, it took twice as long (or longer) than it had in training. The second time was faster. By the third or fourth repetition, you were back to the preflight estimate. But things were getting better. And the next day was Day 8, the first scheduled “day off.”

Pete (8:13 p. m.): “I would like to add one thing, Dick. I think tomorrow, rather than a day off, it’s going to be a field day. We’ve got an awful lot of cleaning up to do in here.”

Later, Paul had a request. “Say, Dick, awhile ago we asked for the coordi­nates of the Pyramids . . . and tomorrow’s our day off. I’d also like the coor­dinates of Mt. Kilimanjaro, if you can find them.”

Houston said ok and good night.

Pete: “Yes, we’re all shaved and we’re leaving for the party. . . . Good night, Dick!”

Unburdened by medical or solar physics duties, the crew did spend much of Day 8 (Friday, 1 June) cleaning up and restowing. They also did some sightseeing out the window, three noses pressed to the glass, three pairs of legs out in different directions. As an aid to where they were, they had a map of the world marked with latitude and longitude lines and pasted onto both sides of a big piece of stiff cardboard with slick plastic rollers at each end. Stretched over the map was a continuous piece of clear plastic, marked with a curved line representing Skylab’s orbit, inclined fifty degrees to the equator; and on the line, short cross markings at intervals of how far Sky – lab would travel in ten minutes.

On request, Houston would give them the exact time and longitude where Skylab had last crossed the equator from south to north—its ascending node. They’d slide the plastic overlay to match, and following the line from there in ten-minute increments, they’d see where they were and what was ahead. For example, set the slider to cross the equator at 160 degrees west longitude, due south of Hawaii. The orbit line showed that Skylab would cross the U. S. west coast at San Francisco, speed over southern Canada north of Montreal, leave America between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, fly southeast over Spain and right down the African continent out into the Indian Ocean east of the Malagasy Republic, up into the Pacific between Australia and New Zealand, and back close over Hawaii—all in ninety-three minutes.

During that hour and a half, the Earth would have rotated one-and-a- half twenty-fourths of 360 degrees, or twenty-two and a half degrees, which at the equator is about 1,350 miles eastward. So the ground under Skylab’s windows would be different each revolution. So would the time of day, the lighting and the weather—a thousand permutations to look for, and the greatest world tour imaginable. Hundreds of frames of film were used on clouds, ocean, islands, mountains, hometowns.

Paul (11:30 a. m.): “Hey, pass on to the people that we are sure glad we came up with this big Earth slider map we’ve got. It’s been the most used single piece of gear on board.”

But a good deal of thought was also going into a TV special for Houston and America. At ten after two:

Houston: “Skylab, Houston, with you for about fifteen minutes.”

Joe: “Okay. Let us know when you get the picture.”

Houston: “It’s good now.”

Weitz cranked up the volume on his cassette recorder, and the strains of “Also Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss—the theme from the movie 2001—filled the air. Pete, Paul, and Joe floated up from the experiment com­partment into the upper workshop doing their best imitations of swimmer and movie star Esther Williams. They twisted and rolled; they flew from wall to wall; and as the climax of their show they ran around those ring lock­ers in an exercise they dubbed—what else—the “Skylab 500.”

Joe: “Pete’s got a couple of free style maneuvers here. The difficulty of that one was a 1.6. Here’s a 2.2 (laughter). He didn’t get many points for that one. . . that was a new one even on us. That’s it. Can we show you anything?”

Houston: “Story wants to know if you’ve gotten around to a handball game yet.

Joe: “No, not yet.”

Houston: “We’ve just had offers from Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey and Kubrick both, if you can bring that show down to Earth and do it.”

Pete: “Everybody’s adapted super well. We all got to talking about what’s going to happen to us when we get back to Earth, because the first thing we’re going to do is dive out of our beds in the morning and crash on the floor.”

On the afternoon of Day 8, the crew had a surprise call about the stuck solar panel from Deke Slayton, the Mercury astronaut who was the corps’ “big boss.”

Deke: “Okay, Pete, this is Deke. I’m sort of playing the middle man between you and Rusty. He’s over at Marshall trying to work some procedures on this thing, and he has a couple of questions. . . . As a starter we’d like to know if there’s any daylight anywhere between that strap and the beam.”

Pete: “. . . I’d say a half to three-quarters of an inch.”

Deke (after more conversation): “Okay. We’ll keep working the prob­lem down here and keep you advised. You guys are doing great work. Hope you’re having a nice day.”

Pete said they were. It’s always nice when the boss is happy with your work.

Deke: “When you have another spare minute you might pull out that wire bone saw—that’s Rusty’s favorite tool. And try it on something around there; you’d be surprised how well that beauty works. And I guess that’s still his favorite choice to solve your problem.”

Pete: “Okay; we’ll do that. We also talked about the possibility of us put­ting the suits on inside the vehicle and seeing how much purchase we can get on—something around here like a food box, you know. . . and see how well we could hang on. . . .”

Deke said ok and signed off.

The field day gave both crew and Mission Control teams a chance to catch up and apply some lessons learned. At 7:30 p. m. the crew reported that once again, most of the coffee on the menu wasn’t drunk. “Coffee isn’t going over too well in the subtropical climate, you can see,” remarked Paul. Later, Pete had another first to report.

Pete (9:05 p. m.): “We’ve had one through the shower, one in the shower and one waiting for the shower.”

Houston: “What does the one that went through it think of the shower?”

Pete: “He’s clean and sweet and smelling good right now. That’s Com­mander Weitz. [One might notice the crew usually got Weitz to try some­thing first.] And we’ve got Joe in there right now, and we’re timing him to see how long it takes. It takes quite a while to sop the water back up again.”

And so to bed.

Saturday, 2 June, Day 9, was Conrad’s birthday (his forty-third), and he talked briefly with his wife and children that morning.

The crew’s increasing efficiency and Mission Control’s increasing expe­rience with scheduling finally dovetailed; the crew finished on time. In the evening report, Pete said, “There were no flight plan deviations today. And we thought today’s flight plan was excellent.” Did the crew’s performance have anything to do with adaptation? Kerwin thought it did. He remarked, after the flight: “I didn’t get motion sick early, just a little less appetite. But Day 8 was the first time I woke up in the morning and said to myself, ‘I real­ly feel great today.’”

A little extra time for Earth gazing was appreciated:

Pete: “I just got some good pictures of Bermuda with the 300 millime­ter camera for the guys in the tracking stations down there. . . . And it’s a lovely day down there. And with the 300 millimeter, the girls look very nice on the beach.”

Houston: “Come on, Pete, you haven’t been up there that long. Your eyes aren’t that sharp yet.”

Joe: “He even thinks Weitz looks good.”

That evening Houston gave an update on the eva plan. “There’s a big management meeting scheduled on Monday to evaluate all the work that Rusty’s been doing down in the tank and to formulate several options. And we’ll send up the results to you for your evaluation. Then we’ll mutually settle on an eva plan and go from there. There is no eva planned for Tues­day.” Pete said ok. They were getting closer.

One more modest first was recorded that evening:

Pete (10:00 p. m.): “We broke out the first ball tonight about 20 minutes ago. We had a little pitch game going, the three of us. And then we turned it into a kind of football game—ricocheting off the walls and throwing a few passes. So we’re working up a few dynamics and orbital mechanics for the ball.”

Houston: “I can’t say I’ve really got a little bet going, but there has been a discussion going as to whether you can really throw the ball straight the first time. Did you?”

Pete: “Yes, it goes straight as an arrow.”

Houston: “Amazing. We always thought you’d throw it high without the gravity there.”

Sunday, 3 June could truthfully be described as a normal working day in space—with the overtone of increasing attention to the forthcoming eva.

Houston (6:15 a. m.): “Skylab, Houston. Do we happen to have anybody in the area of the STS [Structural Transition Section] panel?”

Joe: “Don’t be coy, Houston. What do you need?” [They wanted a switch position checked.]

Houston (7:20 a. m.): “And for the cdr, I’m informed that you now hold the record for more time in space than any other man around, name­ly Shakey.”

Pete: “Holy Christmas! You mean I finally passed Captain Shakey? I can’t believe it.”

Houston: “I think you’ve got him beat by a long way before this thing’s over.”

Pete: “Send him my regards while he’s off on his tugboat.” [“Shakey” was Jim Lovell, an old friend of Pete’s and commander of Apollo 13.]

At 9:00 a. m. Joe played the Navy “Church Call” from his tape cassette for Houston. And later, he recorded on в Channel his evaluation of hand­holds: “Okay, the Workshop dome and wall handholds are adequate for their jobs, maybe even give them a ‘very good.’ Their job is not to hand­over-hand it—you never do that around this place, unless you are carrying a large package. You ordinarily fly from one location to the next, and all you need when you get there is something to grab onto.” The science pilot was obviously getting used to flying; a couple of weeks later he wrote his wife a poem about it.

On Sunday evening, the Capcom was Story Musgrave, Kerwin’s backup and very good in a spacesuit.

Story: “We’re planning on an eva this coming week to deploy sas panel number one. . . . Next evening we’ll send up some procedures for you and also talk them over with you real time to a limited extent tomorrow. Tuesday evening we’ll have maybe two or three revs [orbits, more or less] discussing the procedures with you, including probably a TV conference. . . .”

Pete: “A TV conference. ok. You guys happy you worked something out over there, huh Story?”

Story: “Yes, it’s looking pretty good. . . . It’s basically a five-pole extension with a cutting tool on the end of it and grabbing hold of the strip on the end of the sas wing, tying down the near end to the fixed airlock shroud, and this will give you an eva trail going out there.”

Pete: “Very good. We aim to please. We’re more than happy to do any­thing we can.”

To make it easier to follow the story as it unfolds, here’s an overview of the eva plan Rusty’s team had developed: Once the airlock’s eva hatch was open, Conrad (outside) and Kerwin (inside) would assemble five five-foot – long aluminum poles into one twenty-five-foot pole—long enough to reach from the nearest accessible point (the A-frame) to the sas cover and the strap that held it down. On the business end of the pole would be a telephone com­pany limb lopper (referred to by the crew as the “cutter”). Two ropes from the cutter’s handles (pulling one closed the jaws, the other opened them) would be strung back along the pole to the near end. Kerwin would egress the airlock and proceed around to the A-frame; Conrad would hand him the pole, then follow him around.

Kerwin would maneuver the pole so that the cutter’s jaws slipped over the offending strap, then pull the right rope to close the jaws. The jaws would bite into the strap but not yet cut it. Kerwin would tie the near end of the pole to a nearby strut, forming an “eva trail” down to the sas. Now Con­rad would move down the pole, hand over hand, until reaching the sas. He would carry another rope, known as the “bet” (short for “beam erection tether”), which had two hooks on its end. Kerwin would hold on to the oth­er end of the bet.

Being careful to avoid cutting his suit on sharp edges, Conrad would fas­ten the two hooks into ventilation openings on the sas, down past its hinge.

Pete: “Very good.”

2.6. From Skylab’s airlock (A, hidden in this picture behind the Fixed Airlock Shroud, the black band at the far end of the workshop), an EVA—path provided access to the sun end of the atm (B). However, there were no translation aids going toward the solar array (C).

Kerwin would then tie his end of the bet to a beam as tightly as possible, so that it would lie nearly flat along the surface of the ows. Kerwin would close the cutter’s jaws all the way, severing the strap.

Conrad would then wriggle his body between the bet and the workshop surface and “stand up.” Kerwin would try to do the same up at his end. Together they would put tension on the bet, exerting a pull force on the sas beam. The engineers figured it would take a couple hundred pounds of force to break the frozen hinge and free the solar panel.

On Mission Day 11 the crew produced a swing and a miss and a home run. The swing and miss occurred during another Earth Resources pass — not with the full maneuver so as to preserve precious battery charge—but a valu­able pass, and it went well. The only problem was that after the pass, Pete, reading the checklist, told Paul, “Close the S190 window cover.” And Paul

said, “It’s already closed.” And then both of them said, “Oh, dear, [or some word like that] — we forgot to open it.” The S190 experiment included a set of six cameras which used a high-quality optical window. To keep the win­dow pristine, it was protected by a cover at all times except during a pass. On this pass those cameras took photos of the back of the door instead of the Earth.

They immediately confessed to Houston and constructed a new cue card written in big black letters with that and other key steps on it and posted it over the Earth Resources switch panel. Its title was “Skylab 1 erep Dumbs—t Checklist.” They never forgot again.

The home run was the breakthrough on how to ride a bike in space. On Days 9 through 11, the crew perfected the secret to riding the bike. The secret was taking the harness, wrapping it into a bundle, and throwing it away. Then they just hung on and pedaled. The body tended to pitch for­ward because the handlebars didn’t extend back far enough, so some arm fatigue resulted. They found that letting their rear ends float away from the seat and their heads press against a couple of towels duct-taped to the ceil­ing as a headrest helped ease the strain on their arms. And they didn’t actu­ally put the restraint harness down the Trash Airlock. They were tempt­ed but ended up returning it to its stowage locker, where it would come in handy in a different role on the third mission. The breakthrough was com­plete; exercise to full capacity was now possible.

But on the ground, medical management was coming to some very conser­vative decisions. Dr. Chuck Ross, the crew Flight Surgeon said, “The Skylab medical team was conditioned to be concerned about irregular heartbeats in space because of their occurrence on a couple of Apollo missions. On Apol­lo 15 isolated premature ventricular beats had been observed on both lunar surface crewmen [Dave Scott and Jim Irwin], and Jim had had a series of coupled irregular beats during return from the moon. There was little the doctors could do during the flight. Postflight analysis led to the conclusion that loss of fluids and electrolytes during the strenuous lunar surface evas had caused the problem. [There was a suspicion that the men’s habit of tak­ing long runs on the beach before launch had also cost them some elec­trolytes.] Extra potassium was added to the Tang for the next flight [John Young, the commander, complained about the taste] and several drugs were added to the medical kit to treat severe heart rhythm disturbances if they occurred. None did.

“But when, on Day 8, the team saw Pete’s premature ventricular contrac­tions from his Day 5 M171 run, their concern increased. The Skylab 1 med­ical team was headed by Dr. Royce Hawkins, a ‘by the numbers’ man with little tolerance for risk and a stickler for procedure. Dr. Chuck Berry, the chief astronauts’ physician for the Apollo program, had left for a headquar­ters assignment and was not involved day-to-day in Skylab. And the senior physician at jsc, the very well qualified Dr. Larry Dietlein, was ill.

“During the day both Pete and Joe had described the modification to the ergometer to Houston; and Joe recommended letting the crew run the exer­cise experiment again at the flight-plan levels. But Royce decided that he could not risk a serious arrhythmia occurring in an unmonitored crewman during exercise. And he was prepared to give a no-go for the upcoming eva unless he received assurance that the crew could exercise safely. That was the background when I was directed to relay Royce’s decisions to the crew.”

Late on Day 10, the crew had received a teleprinter message directing them to eliminate the top levels on their bicycle ergometer exercise runs. The teleprinter was a typing device with heat-sensitive printing on a three – inch strip of paper that could be up to thirty feet long. Messages arrived every morning with the day’s plan for each crewman, procedural changes, instrument settings, and so forth. And at the Day 11 medical conference, the crew flight surgeon, Dr. Chuck Ross, reluctantly relayed another deci­sion to the crew. From now on, no free exercise was allowed. All use of the ergometer was to be fully instrumented with the twelve-lead electrocardio­gram and had to take place when Skylab was flying over the United States, so that the surgeon could watch the heartbeats in real time. This procedure would make it much harder to schedule exercise and less would be accom­plished, but the doctors were not going to take a chance. And Pete’s per­mission to perform the eva was to be conditional, depending on his ergom­eter run on Day 12.

Conrad took immediate action. He requested another private telecon­ference with Dr. Kraft and told Chris in the most positive terms that the ergometer modifications had solved the problem and the crew had to have free exercise. He got the decision changed, as long as the ergometer run on Day 12 with him as the subject went well. It did. That reversal and its result removed a potential roadblock to the imminent spacewalk and had a lot to do with allowing Skylab 11 and ill to proceed to set new duration records.

Why was Conrad so passionate about exercise? Kerwin explains: “Both before and during the mission, Pete told us the story of his first try at join­ing the astronaut corps, along with the Original Seven. During medical test­ing at the Lovelace Clinic, he received a surgical examination that he con­sidered to be unnecessarily rough and brusque—and called the offending doctor on it that evening at the Kirtland Air Force Base Officers’ Club bar. Pete was disqualified medically from that selection as being ‘not psycholog­ically adapted for long duration space missions.’ He was selected with the second group, and you could say that his subsequent astronaut career had as at least one of its goals to prove that doctor wrong. He wanted Skylab to be a success, and he wanted to walk off that spacecraft after twenty-eight days in good shape. It was, and he did.”

Houston was true to its word. At 9:33 and 25 seconds on Monday evening, Rusty started his discussion. Three sets of data came up that night on the teleprinter while the crew slept, to review Tuesday and a lengthy, detailed discussion took place Tuesday evening. The crew went through a dry run in the workshop Wednesday morning with TV coverage of part of it so they could show their equipment to the folks on the ground and discuss how to use it. Wednesday evening, the crew would start the eva prep, getting all the setup tasks they could out of the way—so that they could get a nice ear­ly start Thursday on the spacewalk. And Rusty assured them that if they needed more time, delaying until Friday was ok too.

Rusty then went into a detailed walk-through of the plan, using a dia­gram of the workshop previously sent up on the teleprinter. The crew most­ly listened. When Rusty got to the part about standing up under the rope to break the damper and pull the beam hinge free, Pete remarked, “ок. I hope it don’t pull too hard, or we’re going to get swatted like by a fly swat­ter.” Rusty replied, “No — we’ve done it a lot, Pete, and it’s kind of fun as a matter of fact. You’ll enjoy watching it come up.”

The astronauts didn’t go outside cold. They had a very detailed discus­sion Tuesday evening with Rusty and Ed Gibson and then stayed up late preparing the equipment. On Wednesday morning, they did an “eva Sim” in the workshop, the best dress rehearsal they could do inside of what they were going to do outside. They cut and spliced lengths of rope, sewed cloth containers (“Pete did the sewing; he was a real sailor,” Kerwin noted), con­nected aluminum poles together with the cutters on one end and a place to tighten the rope on the other. Kerwin put his spacesuit on — minus the hel – met—and practiced moving the twenty-five-foot pole around and grabbing

something with the cutters. (The floor triangle grid was used as a test tar­get.) The dress rehearsal was as they say Broadway dress rehearsals often are—messy and filled with surprises but very productive. They discussed the details on the air to ground.

Joe: “Can we use the discone antenna as a handhold?” [That was a large radio antenna which stuck straight out from the workshop near the astro­nauts’ work area.]

Capcom: “You can put something like—four feet up—forty pounds or so. Okay, we also—I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to practice with the bone saw, but we’ve got identified for you a piece of 7075 aluminum inside, and that was the launch support bracket. Feel free to cut through it. The only precaution is—you want to have a vacuum cleaner sitting right on top of it, so you don’t end up with aluminum chips.”

Pete: “ok.”

Rusty: “Pete, let me continue on the strap. . . after you cut the strap, we expect, because of the frozen damper situation, that the beam may rise about four degrees before you really put any tension in the bet. . . also, a recommendation after cutting the strap and when you get down there to play the human gym pole game, getting under the bet to push up on it. . . it’s very important that when the beam first starts to give, and you can feel it in the bet, you want to slack off so as not to put any additional energy into the beam coming up.”

Pete: “ok.”

Rusty: “Just for safety reasons, it’s a good idea, when you feel something break, to just stand back and let it go.”

Rusty: “We see the doctor getting into his suit. We wonder if he’s going to try to go out today?”

Joe: “No. I want to get a halfway feel for the difficulties of handling that 25-foot pole.”

Rusty: “Okay. We think that’s a good idea, Joe.”

Pete: “Tell me another thing. Just how do you get yourself under the


Rusty: “Okay. . . after the beam is free, what you do is, using that rope as a trail, you just move back above the hinge line and just work your way underneath the line. It’s not that tight. There really is no problem. And as soon as you get underneath it, as you begin to raise up, you put compression

on yourself. And so it’s quite natural to be able to stand up and the rope holds you down nicely against the beam fairing.”

Pete: “ok. Now the pin by the discone antenna. If you are looking aft, minus x, the discone antenna is on the right about nine inches away, sitting in an angled channel, isn’t it?”

Rusty: “That’s very good, Pete.”

Pete: “Okay; we can see it from the window — the STS window.” [The Structural Transition Section—the lower portion of the mda—had four small windows.]

Rusty: “Ah, that’s great. We never even thought about that. . . . A pre­caution. . . at the base of the discone antenna there are two coax connec­tors which provide the signal path, and Joe wants to be careful not to mash those connectors.”

Joe: “Okay, about those connectors. It’s obvious that there’s a risk that they’ll be damaged or broken off. . . .”

Rusty: “We recognize that, and all we’re asking for is reasonable prudence on your part, Mr. spt. . . . One thing for you, Pete. The folks down here have looked at the optimum place to put the vise grips on a flange of the pcu [the spacesuit’s Pressure Control Unit in the chest area of the suit]. . . .”

Pete: “Joe and I figured we’d put them on the blue hose.”

Rusty: “Okay. We really didn’t have any use for those vise grips out there, Pete. We figured they were just a pretty generally useful tool. . . .”

Pete: “Yes, we agree.”

And back and forth for nearly three hours. From the transcript, it’s clear that they felt a little skeptical about their chances. Near the end of the sim, Joe said: “That’s right. I guess we’ll know better when we see it, but our ini­tial impression is that we’ve got a fifty-fifty chance of pulling it off. And then even if we don’t, we’ll have a fine reconnaissance for you and some real good words on techniques and possibilities for another try later on.”

Rusty: “Right, that’s just the way we figure it except we’ll give you a high­er probability.”

Pete: “Yes, well. Just let me caution you. There is no doubt in my mind, as you mentioned, that we could get involved like we did in Gemini 11. And if we do a lot of flailing around out there, I’m sure that we can run out of gas pretty easy. So I think you’d better figure if we’re unsuccessful in the first

hour and a half we’re probably not going to get the job done. . . but we’ll give her a go tomorrow. I’m pretty sure we understand everything. We’re going back and smoke them over and talk about it some more. And I think the biggest thing depends on Joe being able to get the pole hooked on to something. There’s number one, and two—either cutting it or me cutting it or however that works. And let’s hope there isn’t something else holding it besides that strap.”

Rusty: “Yes, sir. . . .”

The day proceeded with normal activities, eva preps and last-minute decisions. Pete decided not to try bringing the TV camera outside on the eva—too much complexity, another long cable to contend with. (As a result, there are no good pictures of the eva.) The doctors on the ground let Ker – win take the night off from wearing his electroencephalograph sleep cap, so he’d get a good night’s sleep before the eva. Everybody— on Skylab and in Mission Control—went over all the checklists one more time with the usual last-minute changes. Pete’s comment: “You got 500 guys down there keeping three of us busy.” And a little later: “It’s like the night before Christ­mas up here. The suits are hung by the fireplace with their pcus in place, just waiting to go.”

Power was important. The additional power load imposed by the eva had to be balanced by turning things off. Here’s how Houston summed it up:

Houston: “And all this [the shutoffs] comes to 1,100 watts. And then the things that are required for your eva—all your lights, sus [Suit Umbilical System] pumps, tape recorder and converter, primary coolant loop and pcu power, comes out to about 887, and then vtr [videotape recorder] is anoth­er 125 for a total of 1,012.”

Joe (petulantly): “ok. We noticed that little note not to use the food heat­ers for lunch tomorrow. I’ll have you know that we’ve only been using the food heaters for one food each day, and that’s the evening frozen item.”

And here’s a sample of the news for that day, 6 June, as read up to the crew by Capcom:

I’ll start off by saying on this day in history, 1944, we landed in Normandy. Pres­ident Nixon’s made several new appointments this week. . . . General Alexan­der Haig will retire from the Army to become Nixon’s assistant in charge of the

White House staff. Haig, as you recall, was former assistant to Henry Kissing­er. . . . Vice President Spiro Agnew spoke to the U. S. Governors at the Nation­al Governors Conference at Stateline, Nevada. Agnew told the audience that he was ‘available for consultation.’… In Paris, Henry Kissinger resumed secret talks with Le Duc Tho, Politburo member from Hanoi. The two representatives are seeking ways to halt continued violations ofthe ceasefire in Viet Nam. The Senate Watergate hearings continue to be televised during the daylight hours. .

.. A bill has passed the House to raise the minimum wage from $1.60 an hour to $2.20 an hour next year…. Brigette Bardot announced that she will retire from film making. “I have had enough,"she was quoted as saying. Some baseball scores from yesterday: Philadelphia 4, Houston 0, Dodgers 10, Chicago 1. . . .

Talking about Watergate on the air-to-ground was a sensitive business for the Capcoms. Weitz said, “Good sense of proportion. Good night, you all.”

“The day of the crucial spacewalk dawned bright and clear,” according to Kerwin. “But since we had a bright, clear dawn approximately every ninety – three minutes in Skylab, there was nothing special about the way this one looked. There was a slight air of unreality again—sort of like launch day; you know what to do, but you don’t know what’s going to happen. Both the spacecraft and the control room were quiet and businesslike. There wasn’t any hurry. We had the checklists and were methodically working them off, staying a half hour early.”

Pete: “Houston, CDR.”

Houston: “Go ahead.”

Pete: “Oh my gosh, is this Rusty?”

Rusty: “That’s affirmative.”

Pete: “You better give us—what’s the earliest time we can start, Rusty?”

Rusty: “Okay. You’ve got a sunset right around 1410. Hold on, I’ll get an exact time.”

Pete: “Okay. I’m not sure that we’ll make that but there’s—we’ve kind of got a leg up on things and just depends how fast it goes. Otherwise we’ll cool it to the right time.”

Rusty: “Okay, we understand. And we’re sort of semi-prepared for that. Let me give you an exact time here, Pete. Okay. The prior sunset time is about 1403. And Pete, for positive id purposes we’d like just a word of con­firmation that you’ll be playing the role of ev-i today and that Dr. Kerwin will be playing the role of ev-2.”

Pete: “That’s Charlie.” [Playing off the commonly used “Roger” confirmation.]

Rusty: “Charlie, Pete Conrad.”

The crew didn’t make the one-rev-early start time for the eva; there were problems with the coolant loops aboard Skylab that kept Paul occupied and held the two eva astronauts back. But they had time.

Joe Kerwin said, “Paul helped us don the suits. It seemed harder than usu­al to get snugged in and the zipper zipped. On the ground we were usually able to zip it ourselves; up here much pulling and tugging was required. It wasn’t till much later that Dr. Thornton explained to us we’d grown a cou­ple of inches taller.

“Helmets and gloves were secured with a series of satisfying clicks, and checked. The oxygen we were now breathing smelt cold, metallic, and good. Moving to the airlock had been a terrifyingly clumsy task when we practiced it in the big Huntsville water tank. Here it was easy, pleasant, a cakewalk. We’d pulled our long umbilicals out of their storage spheres in the airlock, ‘down’ to the workshop where the suits were stowed for donning. Now we carefully pulled the excess behind us as we floated ‘up’ and in; everything had to fit in those tight quarters.”

Paul went ahead of them. The Skylab airlock was right in the middle of the cluster’s layout. Aft was a hatch into the main workshop; forward were the Multiple Docking Adapter and, right on the end, their Apollo Com­mand Service Module taxicab. Paul had to move to the forward side of the airlock; once it was depressurized there’d be a vacuum between the work­shop and the safety of the Apollo, and no way for him to cross it. Before he left his two crewmates, he made sure they had all the gear they’d need: pole sections, cable cutters, ropes, and spare tethers. Gray-taped to the front of Joe’s suit was Rusty’s favorite tool, the wire bone saw from the dental kit in its cloth container, just in case. Suit integrity checks were performed, and at a quarter past ten it was time to get on with it. It was Pete’s prerogative to open the depressurization valve and let the air out of the airlock. Even that wasn’t routine:

Pete: “Very good.”

27. A rare photograph from the solar array deployment spacewalk.

Pete: “Houston, you may be interested in knowing that on the airlock dump valve, a large block of ice is growing, on the screen [a small mesh screen to keep debris out of the depressurization valve].”

Houston: “That on the inside, Pete, or on the outside?”

Pete: “On the inside. Must have enough moisture in the air, Rusty, that as it hit the screen, it froze. That’s what’s making the lock take so long to dump down.”

Pete finally scraped off some of the ice with his wrist tether hook, the air­lock got down to 0.2 psi, and the hatch was opened at twenty-three min­utes after ten.

Pete went out first and got his boots into the foot restraints just outside the hatch. Joe started assembling the twenty-five-foot pole, pushing it out

to Pete as he did so. At 10:47 Houston was back in communication, and Pete gave them a status report: “We have five poles rigged swinging on the hook. And we’re just intrepidly peering around out here deciding how far around Joe can get in the dark. Now, the pole assembly went super slick. I had a lit­tle juggling problem getting the last longie with the tool on it. . . but she’s all rigged and ready to go hanging on the hook here.”

Inside Paul was having trouble getting a source of cooling water to his suit. (He was suited just in case Pete and Joe, when finished and back inside, couldn’t close the hatch.)

Paul: “Hey, Pete?” [To Don Peterson, the Capcom.]

Don: “Go ahead, Paul.”

Paul: “Yes, I’m ready to start working on getting some cooling water, if you think you got a way.”

Don: “ok, P. J., we do have a way to do that for you. Are you ready to copy?”

Paul (who is suited, helmet off): “No, I’m not. Can you just tell me?”

Don: “Yes, okay, forget that. Are you ready to listen?”

Paul: “Yes.”

But, outside, Pete and Joe were admiring the view.

Pete: “Look, there’s half a moon—”

Joe: “You can see the lights, you can see the moonlight on the clouds.”

Pete: “Oh, I can see the cities, yes.”

Joe: “Horizon to horizon.”

Don: “Hey, can you guys stop lollygagging for just a minute so we can get a word to Paul?”

The next ten minutes were a medley of Pete and Joe pulling out fifty-five feet of umbilical for each and solving the resulting tangles, interspersed with Paul talking to Houston about cooling pumps.

The route to the solar panel was uncharted territory. To get there, the crew­men would have to move underneath the Apollo Telescope Mount struts to reach a point at the edge of the Fixed Airlock Shroud where those struts were anchored, a point the crew called the “A-frame.” From there they could look straight aft at the stuck Solar Panel 1. And that was as close as they could get. There were no handholds, no lighting, no eva accessories out there.

Pete: “I tell you, you’re going to get worn out doing the things that require you to go there. Do it. Well, that’s a big snarl down there. I hope it all comes out right.”

Joe: “Now I suggest you take that loop in your hand and put it up over your head.”

Pete: “No. How did we do that? . . . Okay. That all right?”

Joe: “Yes. And it all goes behind you.”

Houston: “Joe, are you going through the trusses or up over the top? You should be going through them.”

Joe: “Through, through. I’m right on the mda surface.”

Houston: “ok.”

Joe: “I’m looking at Paul through the window right now. The other win­dow, Paul. Hi there. I’ve got one hand on the handrail, one hand on the vent duct, and I’m looking at the discone antenna.”

Pete: “Do you see the pin?”

Joe: “I’ll tell you—no, the base of the antenna is pretty dark.”

Houston: “The next thing you’ll be doing when you get enough light is to go up and hook your chest tether into the pin.”

Joe: “Understand.”

Houston: “And for your information, you’ve got seven minutes to sunrise.”

Skylab sailed out of communications range at eleven minutes past eleven. When Houston regained contact over the United States at nearly 11:30, Pete and Joe were well into daylight. Their struggle with the aluminum strap, the twenty-five-foot pole, and Newton’s third law had begun.

Getting into position had been easy. Kerwin was floating beside the dis­cone antenna, loosely tethered to the pin at its base (an eye bolt shaped like an upside-down u). He held the twenty-five-foot pole in both hands and had it pointed aft, right down the left edge of the Solar Array System, with the cutter’s jaws tantalizingly close to the plainly visible villain of the piece, the aluminum strap. Conrad was just above and behind Kerwin, holding with one hand to one of the sturdy beams that supported the Apollo Telescope Mount. All Kerwin had to do was move the jaws (each about four inches long) over the strap and clamp them tight.

When Houston came back into communications range over the United States fifteen minutes later, Conrad and Kerwin were still struggling. Here are some excerpts:

Pete: “Okay, Houston, we’re out there. We have the debris in sight. There looks like enough room to get the cutter in, and I’m trying to help Joe sta­bilize. And Joe, you’re way past it, it looks like.”

Joe: “I don’t think I am.”

Pete: “Yes you are. Come—come towards me.”

Joe: “. . . See, I’ve got it tethered, and that prevents me—”

Pete: “You’re battling the tether. [The tether securing the pole to the structure, to prevent them losing it if they lost their grip.] . . . I’ll re-tether it for you. Can you hold the pole?”

Joe: “I’ve got the pole.”

Pete: “Got it. Now you’re in business.”

Joe: “I’ll tell you, holding that on there is going to be a chore. Goldang it. Wait a minute. . . . If you could hold one foot, man, I could use both hands on this.” [Whenever NASA uses a word like “goldang” in an official tran­script, the actual word used may have been a different one.]

Rusty: “Okay, we’re reading you. Understand you’re having trouble main­taining your position in order to hook it on the strap. Can you give us a lit­tle more detail?”

Pete: “. . . We’re working the problem. Bunch of wires in the way. Gosh, that prevented you from getting it that time.”

Rusty: “Okay. The only thing I can say is that in the water tank we stood almost parallel with the discone with our feet down by the base, and used the discone as a handhold.”

Joe: “Yes, I’m doing that. It’s not a handhold I need, Rusty, it’s a foothold.”

Pete: “I tell you, Rusty, it looks like if we ever get it on the strap we’ve got it made. Because I can see the rest of the meteoroid panel, and most of it’s underneath and looks relatively clear.”

The pair kept on struggling. But when Houston went out of contact at 11:44, they still hadn’t clamped the strap. They called a halt for rest and thinking. And while he was resting, Kerwin looked down at the base of the discone antenna, at the eye bolt where his chest tether was fastened. And he had an idea.

The chest tether was six feet long and adjustable. Kerwin said, “What if I just double the tether? Instead of hooking it on the eye bolt, I run it through the eye bolt and back to my chest? And tighten it a little so I can stand up against the tension, sort of a three-legged chair, two feet and the tether?”

Pete helped run the tether through; Joe clicked it onto the ring on his chest and stood up. He was as stable as a rock. Three minutes later the jaws were closed on the strap. Houston came back at 11:54.

Rusty: “Skylab, Houston, we’ve got you through Vanguard here. Sounds like you got it hooked on somewhere.”

Pete: “Yes we do, and now all we’re trying to do is straighten out the umbilical mess before I go out.”

Rusty: “Great.”

Pete: “I don’t think we’ll have to move the cutter. We’ve got it in the thin­nest spot. All right, you ready?”

Joe stabilized the pole and Pete went out hand over hand, his legs out sideways to the left, his end of the Beam Erection Tether tethered to his right wrist.

Pete: “Let it come over the end first. Don’t pull it all loose. That a boy. Bye.”

Joe: “Take your time; I want to feed this rope behind you.”

Pete: “I’m going to tighten the nuts on these pole sections on the way. . . . Every single one of them has backed off.” And there was a lot of straighten­ing of umbilicals. Houston unfortunately was going out of communications range again—with things looking up, but the issue still in doubt.

Rusty: “Okay. . . we’re going to have an hour dropout before we pick you up again at Goldstone. That’ll be at 1803 [three minutes after one Hous­ton time.] And you have about thirteen minutes of daylight left. And no big sweat.”

For a moment it appeared Pete’s umbilical, now pulled out to its full sixty feet, wasn’t long enough. But he and Joe straightened it out and it was. Pete could only get one of the two hooks on the bet fastened to the Solar Array System beam; the opening for the other was just too far away to reach. Joe tightened and tied the near end of the bet; it now stretched from the hook on the sas beam to the A-frame strut. Pete carefully inspected the jaws of the cutter; they were perfectly positioned.

Now Joe positioned his body parallel to the pole and pulled on the jaw­

closing rope with all his might. The jaws closed, the strap was cut, and Pete was a bit startled as the sas beam jumped out a few inches, then stopped. This was just as predicted. Pete inspected the area; the beam was free, the damper was frozen, and the hinge would have to be pulled open.

Pete carefully backed away, six feet or so toward Joe. Carefully, the umbil – icals were pulled back and straightened, with care to make sure that one didn’t get pinched. Carefully, both men moved their bodies under the bet, feet toward the solar panel, face toward the workshop surface.

Kerwin recalled, “Pete gave the word and we both pushed away with our hands and got our feet under us. We pushed and straightened up. Sudden­ly —I almost remember hearing a ‘pop,’ but I know I couldn’t have heard one. I guess I felt the pop. The rope was loose, and we were free in space, tumbling head over heels and floating away. Then I got hold of my umbili­cal, and pulled myself back down till I could grab a strut and turn around. And so did Pete. And we saw the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen—well, almost. That solar panel cover was fully upright—ninety degrees from the workshop — and steady — and you could see the three solar panels inside it beginning to unfold. Touchdown! When I think about it now, thirty years later, I can still feel that glow.”

Rusty (three minutes after one): “Hello there. We’re listening to you. You’re coming in loud and clear. And we see sas amps.”

Pete: “All right. I’ll tell you where we are. We’ve got the wing out and locked, the outboard panel and the middle panel are out about the same amount, and the third one is not quite. Got the main job done.”

Conrad and Kerwin spent quite a while inspecting the area, tidying up their ropes and discussing everything with Houston. Back at the hatch, they stopped to push Pete’s umbilical back into its sphere inside the air­lock —about the most physical work they’d done on the eva. Then Joe got a reward. He got to move up the eva trail to the sun end of the Apollo Tele­scope Mount to inspect the doors, pin one open, and replace film in one of the cameras. It was a treat to work where handholds and footholds were plentiful—and a real treat to stand up above the atm with sun overhead and the Earth spread out below, beautiful as ever, its roundness apparent. It was a “king of the hill” feeling.

The hatch was closed a little under four hours after egress.

Rusty: “Okay, I got some good news for you. First of all, everybody down here is shaking hands, and we wish we could reach up there and shake yours. That was a dandy job and everybody was very pleased. And secondly, we’re saying press on with the normal Post eva Checklist where it says ‘eat.’ Go ahead and have a nice one and just cool it.”

Pete: “Yes, roger. When we have time this afternoon we’ll debrief the eva. I can tell you where the differences are between the water tank and up here. That’s why it took us longer.”

Rusty: “You got the job done. We don’t care.”

Pete: “Well, we got the job done only for one reason, and that’s because Joe asked for the end of the long tether to double it up to get himself anchored. If he hadn’t been able to anchor himself we wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

Later in the afternoon, this exchange took place.

Houston: “Skylab, Houston, how do you read?”

Joe: “Well, the plt is shaving and the cdr went by and said, ‘You’ve been a good boy this week, Paul; you can have the Command Module tonight.’” [The orbital equivalent of a paternal loan of an automobile to reward a teen­age son.]

Houston: “Roger, copy. Everyone listening up?”

Paul: “Yes.”

Houston: “Okay, I got a message I’d like to read up to you. It’s to Sky – lab Commander Conrad. ‘On behalf of the American people, I congratu­late and commend you and your crew on the successful effort to repair the world’s first true space station. In the two weeks since you left the Earth, you have more than fulfilled the prophecy of your parting words, ‘We can fix anything.’ All of us have a new courage now that man can work in space to control his environment, improve his circumstances and exert his will, even as he does on Earth. Signed, Richard Nixon.’”

And that is one of the legacies of Skylab.

The crew thought their day was over, but it wasn’t. At about 8:oo p. m., when they were doing final cleanup chores and looking out the window, Houston had cheerful news: “We’re showing them [the solar panels] all three ioo percent, and we’re starting to command you back to solar iner­tial at this time.”

But an hour later, there was this call:

Houston: “Okay, let me get with you guys on a problem we’ve been watch­ing here, which is the secondary coolant loop. [It] got very cool during your eva, and we can’t seem to get the devil warmed back up. . . . As you know, the primary loop we can’t use because of the stuck valve. . . what we’re look­ing into now is what critical items we can turn off tonight so that we don’t have to be waking you up.”

The crew rogered, and signed off as usual at about 10:00 p. m. The men were tired. There wasn’t much window gazing this night, just quick trips to the bathroom and a few minutes’ reading in “bed.”

But they were just getting into deep sleep when Houston was back.

Houston: “Hey, sorry to bother you guys, but this coolant loop is getting away from us. It’s down to two degrees below freezing now. And we’re going to have to get you up and work on it until we can get the thing warmed up. . . . It may freeze up in the condensing heat exchanger, and that’s an intol­erable situation. Sorry to do this to you guys. . . .”

Pete: “No, we want to keep the show running, pal. Don’t worry about that.”

It was an ironic situation; in a spacecraft plagued by heat, an essential system was threatening to freeze. And what saved the situation were those warm workshop walls that the parasol didn’t quite cover.

Here’s what was happening. The airlock coolant loop consisted of two cir­culating “loops” of fluid driven by pumps. In the interior loop the fluid was water. It flowed through pipes in metal “cold plates” to which electrically pow­ered devices were attached, cooling them, and during spacewalks, through the eva umbilicals to the crew’s suits and into plastic tubes in their under­garments. After being warmed by the astronaut’s bodies, it flowed through a heat exchanger where its channels were in contact with those of the exterior loop. The exterior loop contained a water/glycol mixture, antifreeze, with a low freezing point. It warmed up in the heat exchanger, taking heat from the water, then radiated the heat to space in an external radiator.

The problem was that the airlock and Multiple Docking Adapter had been cold throughout the mission, and much of the electrical equipment had been turned off because of the power shortage. When Pete and Paul did their spacewalk even more equipment had been turned off, enough to cool

the loop further despite the heat transferred from the astronauts. The exter­nal loop’s temperature dropped dangerously. If it dropped below the freez­ing point of water, the glycol wouldn’t freeze but the water would, ruptur­ing the heat exchanger and making the loop inoperative.

The crew scurried into the workshop, found umbilicals and two of the liquid cooling garments (lcgs) normally worn under their spacesuits to cir­culate cold water around their bodies and hooked them into the coolant loop. Then they taped the lcgs to the warmest part of the workshop wall they could find, near Water Tank i. They turned on the pumps, flowing water into the loop, warming it. They covered the lcgs with clothing to prevent heat from being lost into the atmosphere. They and Houston pow­ered up every piece of equipment on that loop. They were thankful for the power newly available.

And it worked. Temperature at the heat exchanger rose to forty-one degrees in just under an hour. The crew stayed up until midnight, to make sure Houston had it under control, then went back to sleep, weariness mixed with relief. Houston promised not to wake them until 8:oo a. m.

The coolant loop emergency marked the transition between the first and second halves of the Skylab I mission. With reveille on Day 15, both crew and team were relaxed and confident, schooled in their roles and determined to “get back on the timeline.”

Systems were powered up. There was hot water for the coffee. Hot show­ers began to appear on the flight plan (but only once a week). Skylab talked to Houston about the possibility of scheduling another spacewalk to erect a better sunshade, the so-called “Marshall Sail.” They decided to leave that to the second mission; but the crew unanimously made the decision to sub­stitute Weitz for Kerwin for the end-of-mission film retrieval eva on Day 26. All three had trained, and spreading the experience around would be good for the astronaut cadre.

Suddenly it was the second half of man’s longest space mission; every­one was now thinking ahead to its conclusion. Houston negotiated a plan to shift the crew’s workday several hours earlier, starting with Day 21. The big shift was made necessary by a nominal landing at dawn in the Pacific, and crew and ground agreed it would be easier to take it in little steps. The steps weren’t that little. They shifted earlier by two hours on Mission Days 21 and 22, then by four and a half hours on Day 28, their last night aboard

Skylab. Pete and Paul each took a Dalmane sleeping pill that “night,” but nobody got much sleep.

Days settled into a routine. Had there been a murder on Skylab, and had Hercule Poirot wanted to check everyone’s whereabouts on the crucial day, he’d need only to refer to the air-to-ground conversations and the telemetry data showing what was on or off. Medical experiments were “down below,” and the subject got to pick which music tape to play. More busy passes at the atm, including usually an evening pass. Earth Resources passes dai­ly for six straight days. Somehow the crew started keeping up and getting ahead. On Day 17, Pete actually settled into his sleep compartment at 9:30 with a book. “Yes,” he told Houston, “We ran out of things to do.” Hous­ton answered, “You better be careful, Pete. I saw three guys reach for 482s [a task form] down here to start scheduling.”

They began to look for activities not in the flight plan.

Kerwin, on Day 18: “I have my hobby up here. I have my do-it-yourself real doctor kit. Right now I’m staining slides.”

Conrad: “He’s working on my throat culture or something.”

Pete invented new games involving the blue rubber ball.

Pete: “We’re working on a new game up here, Houston. It’s called ‘get the rubber ball back to you.’ Try it off the water ring lockers first.”

Houston: “Which ball you using, Pete?”

Pete: “The blue rubber one, but—it gives up energy awful fast. It kind of poops out after four or five bounces. What we really need is one of those super balls.”

Paul, on Day 19: “Roger, Houston. We’re pretty busy right now. The cdr is trying to break the plt’s world record of thirteen bounces around the ring lockers. . . . Don’t ask for the rules. It’s extremely complicated, involves orbit­al mechanics and everything.”

Houston: “Just be sure it’s only the world’s record that you break.”

On the evening of Mission Day 22, the crew gathered around the ward­room table for ice cream and strawberries around bedtime, and somebody said, “It’s been Day Twenty-two up here forever!” Now that routine had taken over, just a little boredom had crept in. They were starting to think about coming home.

The very next day, Houston discussed with the crew the possibility of their staying aboard one extra week, to complete additional experiment runs. Of course Conrad said, “You betcha, Houston—we’re ready!” But all three were just a bit relieved when the idea was dropped, as NASA gained confi­dence that the second and third missions would take place. This crew was ready to smell the sea air.

As the flight went on, Pete developed an unfortunate addiction to the butter cookies. He was exercising hard and needed the extra calories. And the butter cookies were “homemade” — done in a NASA kitchen to the recipe of Rita Rapp, a wonderful food system specialist. It got so bad that on Day 23 he asked Houston specifically to assure that there were plenty of butter cookies aboard Ticonderoga, the recovery aircraft carrier.

One evening the three decided to check out what it felt like to navigate around a big spacecraft in absolute darkness. They turned off every light in the workshop and covered the big wardroom window, then waited for the spacecraft to fly into night.

“It was really different!” Kerwin recalled. “I never had a sensation of fall­ing till we did that. But you were absolutely clueless about where you were and where anything else was. It was scary. I just clutched my handhold and didn’t want to move. It was my first real sensation of fear in space. And oth­ers have reported similar feelings. I remember Ken Mattingly talking about emerging from the Command Module hatch on the way home from the moon on Apollo 16, to retrieve film from a camera in the Service Module. Neither the Earth nor the moon was in sight; space looked like an infinite­ly deep black hole. He just wanted to hold on to something.”

All three crewmen had their twentieth college reunions going on. All of them asked that greetings be relayed to their classmates.

Most evenings the Capcom would have time after the evening report to give the crew a brief news report. There was plenty of unrest on planet Earth:

Houston: “The Texas wheat crop is expected to be the third largest in his­tory, but it’s in danger because of our fuel crisis. . . . They’re limiting gas at lots of places to ten gallons per fill-up. . . . Nixon is proposing a new Cabinet level Department of Energy and Resources. . . . There was a partial brown­out of all Federal Buildings in Washington DC. . . . Nixon has established a price freeze for sixty days, and is considering a profit rollback. The markets didn’t like it; the dollar was down and gold was up.”

“There were seven inches of rain in Houston yesterday. . . . Dr. Kraft [the

Pete: “Very good.”

28. Kerwin performs a medical examination of Conrad.

center director, who lived a few miles west of the center in Friendswood] is spending the night at the Nassau Bay Motel.

“President Sadat visited Libya to discuss the planned merger of Egypt and Libya. . . . General Francisco Franco, now 80 and ruler of Spain for 35 years, is turning part of his duties over. . . . The war in Viet Nam may be nearing an end. . . .”

“A Soviet TU-144 crashed at the Paris Air Show yesterday. There were many deaths. . . .”

“In case you’re going to South Padre Island, Texas, they have just elected a new sheriff who’s a 27-year-old redheaded mother of two. She says, ‘I’m a mean redhead, and if they ever call me ‘pig’ they had better be careful.’”

Paul: “I think we’ll stay up here, Houston.”

Houston: “Come to think of it, maybe you people are well off where you are.”

Also on Day 22, there was “The Flare.” For days, the sun had been tan­talizing the crew with hints of increased activity. The crew got daily brief­ings on what was happening. They sounded like this: “Active Region 37 has rotated onto the disc. . . as a large spot group. And we had a subnormal flare there which began at 8:35. . . .”

The briefers hoped to alert the Apollo Telescope Mount operators (and all three crewmen shared that duty) to where a flare might occur. It was the Holy Grail of solar physics to capture a flare—especially the first crucial minutes of rise—with the variety of instruments onboard Skylab. It would be histor­ic data. Each of the Skylab solar experiments had its own team of investiga­tors. But since just one astronaut would operate all of them during a single fifty-minute sunrise-to-sunset “pass,” the investigators had gotten together to plan a large number of Joint Observing Programs—jops—designed to handle all their various data needs during all levels of solar activity. And the granddaddy of jops was the infamous jop 13, the routine for a solar flare. It required quickly and accurately pointing the Apollo Telescope Mount can­ister straight at the flare, then activating all the cameras in high speed mode with correct settings. It took lots of photographs; film was flying through the cameras. jop 13 was not to be used lightly—scientists wanted desperate­ly to get a flare, but nobody wanted to waste film on a false alarm.

How could there be a false alarm? The views and instrument readings that the crew had available had never been used this way before, so the “sig­nature” of the beginning of a real flare wasn’t known. As the mission pro­gressed, it seemed that the best clue to a real flare was going to be an increase in x-ray intensity measured by one of the two x-ray telescopes. But anoth­er phenomenon also caused the x-ray count to increase—a trip through the South Atlantic Anomaly.

One of the first discoveries ever made by an orbiting spacecraft was made by Dr. James Van Allen, using data from a simple Geiger counter on Amer­ica’s first satellite, Explorer 1. He discovered two “belts” of solar radiation trapped above the Earth by its magnetic field. The inner Van Allen belt con­sisted of energetic (and dangerous) protons. Its center was about one thou­sand miles up, but at one point, just east of the southern end of South Amer­ica, it dipped close to the atmosphere. That is the South Atlantic Anomaly. And Skylab passed right through it, not on every revolution, but a few times each day. For example:

Pete (on Day 18): “I have an in and out on the flare there, Houston; 650.” [A reading of 650 on the proportional counter.]

Pete (a minute later): “Want us to go after the flare, Houston? It’s 690, 700.”

Houston (after checking): “Pete, you’re in the Anomaly right now, and that’s the reason you’re getting the flare indication. So, we do not want you to press with a flare jop.”

Paul: “Hey, Houston, I think you guys have got to put those . . . anomaly passes, all of them, on our pads. If that ever happens out of station contact, we’re going to come over the hill minus about 300 frames of film.”

Finally, on Day 22, they got lucky. At eight minutes after nine, Houston advised the crew that a “subnormal flare” had started in Active Region 31. Paul was on the atm console. Thirteen minutes later, Kerwin called back:

Joe: “Houston, Skylab. I’d like you to be the first to know that the plt is the proud father of a genuine flare. . . . Just about the time you called, he got a high count. And this time it was confirmed by image intensity count over 300, by a bright spot in the x-ray image, and a very bright spot on the xuv monitor. He found the flare in Active Region 31, a factor of ten bright­er than anything we’ve seen. In other words, it was unmistakable once it happened.”

Paul got about two minutes of flare rise, surrounded by his crewmates, who had dropped everything when he called. Subsequent crews did much better; but they had the first one, and were “proud as new daddies,” as Paul put it.

Pete and Paul, the operators of the Earth Resources Experiment Pack­age, became increasingly skilled at finding and photographing Earth “tar­gets,” even through pretty extensive cloud cover.

Paul: “For information, it’s hard looking out at 45 degrees forward. You look through a lot of atmosphere. It’s hard to see detail. . . . and I got Fort Cobb, and the reservoir. . . . Okay, for special 01, all you’re getting is clouds so far. . . very low sun angle clouds; It’s like a scene from a biblical movie just before the heavens open up.”

Joe: “It’s going to break up in a minute over Lake Michigan.”

Besides doing the scientific erep passes, all the crewmen loved taking pictures of the world. They got pretty good at recognizing continents and islands—not perfect, but pretty good.

Houston: “Skylab, Houston with you for six minutes through Honeysuckle.”

Pete: “We’re just coming up on New Zealand. I think I’ll get some pret­ty good pictures this pass.”

Houston: “You’re sure that’s not Puerto Rico?”

Pete: “You said Honeysuckle before I said New Zealand.”

Houston: “Okay.”

Honeysuckle Creek was the tracking station in the beautiful hills south of Canberra, Australia, occupied by a few kangaroos. It’s closed now and very peaceful. Pete knew he was nowhere near Puerto Rico.

Each man had his favorites. Pete loved to photograph Pacific atolls; Paul favored the Great Lakes, the Rockies, and Australia and New Zealand; and Joe specialized in the Rockies and Chicago, his hometown; he kept looking for Wrigley Field and the Brach candy factory, where his dad had worked. After the spacewalk on Mission Day 26, they asked permission to use one extra roll of film just for Earth snapshots. Houston approved.

Back on Day 16, the crew had heard that President Nixon had scheduled a Summit Conference with General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev of the Sovi­et Union at the “Western White House” in San Clemente, California, for 18—26 June. On Day 24 it got a little more personal. Pete received a call from Nixon inviting them to attend. They accepted, and the president wished them all a happy Father’s Day.

On Day 25 Pete relayed Skylab’s respects to the Russian cosmonauts; this crew had now broken their duration record of nearly twenty-four days, set on the ill-fated Soyuz 11 flight. (The Soyuz 11 crew had been lost due to a loss of spacecraft pressure during its return from Salyut 1 in June 1971.) The following day there was a reply from Vladimir Shatalov, “Congratulations and a safe return.” The crew noted with satisfaction the last erep pass, the last run of each medical experiment. There was one more major chore to do: a spacewalk to retrieve that precious Apollo Telescope Mount film.

Around this time, Kerwin had written a poem to his wife that tried to capture the sensations of living in space:

I’m getting used to knowing how to fly.

When I was young I used to fly in dream Up ways so high and easy it would seem As if Earth wheeled and slanted, and not I.

And now it’s real. We move that way at will,

Like dust motes in a sunbeam. Push away,

Drift down your own trajectory, tumble, play And who can say what moves and what is still?

In this high sunlit ship the laws of space,

Height without vertigo, mass without weight,

Entrain our nerveways to their easy pace As if this rhythm were our native state.

What if Man were an exile from the sky?

Are we, perhaps, remembering how to fly?

Mission Day 26 was another eva day, and the crew was up at 2:00 a. m. Houston time. Pete’s jobs today would include brushing away a tiny piece of debris from the rim of the solar coronagraph (it was blurring the view) and attempting to free a stuck relay in one of the battery charger relay mod­ules by hitting the airlock skin over it with a hammer (it was preventing the battery from charging). At 5:45 Pete took stock:

Pete: “All, right now, let me just stop one second. I got the brush, I got the hammer, I got two film trees and I got an ev-i and an ev-2 [him and Paul] in the Airlock. Is that right?”

Brushing off the debris proved easy. Tapping the relay was a bit more com­plicated. Pete had Rusty Schweickart, who was acting as Capcom, describe twice exactly where to hit. Joe, inside, made sure the charger was turned off. Then Pete gave the relay housing several mighty bangs.

Paul: “There it goes. Yes. Boy, is he hitting it! Holy cats!”

Joe: “Houston, EV-3. He hit it with the hammer. I turned the charger on, and I’m getting a lot of amps on the battery. Do you want to have a look?

Houston: “Okay. It worked. Thank you very much, gentlemen, you’ve done it again.”

Pete and Paul scrambled back into the airlock after just one hour and thir­ty-six minutes, with all the film. The crew pointed out that they had done their thing with a hammer and a feather, sort of like Galileo (or the Apol­lo 15 crew on the moon). And that evening, Pete read the following message from nasa: “To Captain Charles Conrad, Jr. On or about 22 June 1973, you and your crew will detach from Skylab One, leaving it in all respects ready

for the arrival of the Skylab 3 crew on or about 27 July, 1973. You will then proceed by space and air to the USS Ticonderoga without delay, and report immediately to the Senior Officer Present Afloat for duty.”

The next day was Day 27, Wednesday, 20 June. Skylab was cautioned that morning not to record anything requiring immediate attention on в Chan­nel — they’d be home before it could be retrieved and acted on. The very last medical experiment was run—a final exercise tolerance test with Paul as the subject. Then there was a press conference.

The conference was relaxed and upbeat.

Joe gave his preliminary appraisal of the medical effects of a month in space: “Right now the score is ‘Man, three; space, nothing.’ . . . What’s been such a pleasant surprise is how nice we feel. We’re able to get up in the morn­ing, eat breakfast and do a day’s work. I’m tremendously encouraged about the future of long-duration flights for that reason.”

Pete’s appraisal of the most significant accomplishment was “that we have now a ninety percent up-and-operating space station to turn over to the SL-3 crew.” He went along with Joe on the crew’s condition. Neither Pete nor Paul thought they’d eat as much as they did. And Pete thought he was in better shape than at the end of his eight-day Gemini 5 flight.

Paul emphasized how important it had been to have very high fidelity trainers and simulators on the ground. “And the things that are easy to do in the trainer are easy to here, ninety-eight percent of the time. And vice versa.” Their advice to the next crew: “Don’t forget the learning curve, don’t worry about your training, have fun.”

With that over, they started packing and got so far ahead of the flight plan that they decided to go to bed another hour early. Tomorrow was going to be deactivation day.

First call on Day 28 was at 1:00 a. m., and for the first time, Houston woke the crew with music: “That’s ‘The Lonely Bull’ for you, Pete.” Pete said, “You should have started doing that on Day Two,” and a tradition was born. Ever since Mission Control has specialized in playing wake-up music for Shuttle and International Space Station (iss) crews, tailored to their personalities.

They raced around the workshop. In fact, Paul clocked one complete traverse from the Command Module to the Trash Airlock at “sixty sec­onds loaded with gear, twenty seconds at max speed” — just to help out the activity planners. They took front and side “mug shots” of one another for the doctors. Joe squeaked his rubber ducky, the one his brother Paul, the Marine pilot, had carried on missions over Viet Nam. Pete said, “It’s like a day-before-Christmas party up here, Hank.”

Houston (Hank Hartsfield, the Capcom): “You know, it’s 5 in the morn­ing down here.”

Paul: “How about giving him something to do, Houston, will you please?”

Houston: “Can you stomp your foot up there in zero-G as easy as you can in one G?”

Pete: “You bet your sweet bippy, you can also go ‘Ah—haaa!’”

Paul: “You can only stomp once.”

So everything was sailing along. Then it happened. The Trash Airlock jammed.

Pete (ten minutes before eight): “Okay, Houston. We’ve got some bad news for you. We were jettisoning the charcoal canister through the trash airlock per procedures, and it has hung itself in the airlock. . . . We’re work­ing the problem, but—it’ll be pure luck if we bounce it off that lip and get it out of there.”

Pete, Paul, and Houston began to work the problem in an atmosphere of grim hurry. No place to dump trash would give the next crew a terrible problem. Story Musgrave, Joe’s backup, went over to the mockup to try to reproduce the problem and solve it. Finally, at 9:15, Paul reported: “So having wound up there [at the end of a malfunction procedure that didn’t work] we started working on it a little more. And by judicious application of muscle, we did manage to get it up and free. So the trash airlock is oper­ative once more.” In other words, they kept fooling with it till something worked—just like you fix things at home. Everybody sighed with relief and pledged never again to put something that big down without taping up all the edges. And they carried on. There would be only one more glitch before the mission ended.

To bed at 2:00 p. m. Houston time, the crew played “America” to the sat­isfaction of Mission Control. Up at 7:00 p. m., sleepy and in for a long day. They’d be tired and ready for bed about the time they hit the water. Joe told Karl Henize, the Capcom, “It’s wonderful of you to pretend it’s morning, just for us.” Lots of last-minute questions, cross checking that they had the right procedures, messages, and times. There was another review on exactly how to mate the docking probe and drogue, which had nearly sabotaged the mission on Day i, and how to proceed if they didn’t mate. (They did.)

The last problem was that Skylab’s refrigeration system now began warm­ing up. Houston worked the problem for nearly four hours while the crew finished stowage and donned suits. Would their undocking be delayed, can­celed? Finally Houston decided the system’s radiator, positioned right aft at the end of the workshop, where the engine nozzle would have been, had fro­zen up. They maneuvered the cluster to point it at the sun. The crew closed the tunnel hatch and waited in their couches for a go to undock. At 3:30 a. m. it was delayed. At 3:54 it was given; the radiator was unblocked and the loop was cooling down.

Pete flew around Skylab for a farewell inspection and photos; it looked small and friendly as they backed away, with its lopsided solar panel and crumpled parasol against a cloud-flecked ocean background.

The first of two deorbit burns came at a little after five, followed by the last star sightings through the Command Module’s telescope. Joe got drinks for everyone before strapping in for the final burn and decided to save his until after splashdown. At 7:30 Houston gave Skylab the weather in the recovery area.

Houston: “There’ll be two recovery helos, with the call signs Recovery and Swim. And you’re being awaited by the U. S.S. Ticonderoga. And we’re waiting to see you back here in Houston, too.”

Pete: “Alrighty. You can relay to the Tico, ‘We’ve got your Fox Corpen and our hook is down.’” [Pete was playing the Naval aviator coming in for a landing on the carrier’s deck. Fox Corpen is the ship’s heading. It sound­ed great to the rest of his crew.]

The final deorbit burn was successful at twenty-one minutes after six (Pacific Time). Joe and Paul were surprised to note that they “grayed out” a little during the burn. Pilots knew that fighter plane maneuvers that pro­duced high levels of acceleration—loops or very tight turns—could drain the brain of blood and produce a reduction (grayout) or complete loss (black­out) of vision, or even loss of consciousness. The Service Module engine only produced about one G worth of thrust. That was normally a trivial acceler­ation. But nobody’d been weightless for a month before.

Joe: “I went kind of gray and then I was coming back.”

Paul: “I think what gets you on that is the spike [abrupt] onset.”

Joe: “We’ll see; there’s no spike onset to entry.”

Entry G force would build up to about four and one-half Gs but very grad­ually. No problem was really anticipated; but they did rehearse what switch­es had to be thrown to assure successful splashdown, and by whom.

Joe: “Remember, els Logic to auto if you’re blacking out.”

Pete: “Right.”

Nobody blacked out. Pete got the Earth Landing System switch to auto right on time. And at 6:45 Skylab contacted Recovery, at 4,500 feet, with three good main chutes.

The uss Ticonderoga, cv-14, was a proud old ship at the end of its thirty years of service. Recovering Skylab 1 would be its last cruise. Everyone knew that, and it gave the ship a sense of celebration, regret, and tension.

Tico was commissioned on 8 May 1944, the sixth Essex-class carrier and the fourth ship to bear her name. She fought hard in the Pacific, surviving two kamikaze strikes in early 1945 to steam into Tokyo Bay on 6 Septem­ber, four days after the formal surrender. She made several roundtrips state­side, bringing thousands of soldiers and sailors home in Operation Magic Carpet, then was placed in storage in 1947. She was reactivated and convert­ed in the mid-1950s, adding steam catapults and an angled deck to take on modern jet fighters, the Skyhawk, Phantom, and Crusader among them. She served the Navy as an attack carrier for the next fifteen years. In 1970 Ticonderoga underwent her final conversion, configured this time for anti­submarine warfare, helicopters instead of jets. Among her missions were the recovery of the crews of Apollo 16 and 17 in 1972.

She steamed out of San Diego about a week before splashdown. Aboard was a team of recovery and medical experts from NASA. The medical team included physicians from the U. S. Navy, Air Force, NASA, and Britain’s Roy­al Air Force. Also aboard were two women (unusual at that time) — the lead press pool reporter, Lydia Dotto, was science writer for the Toronto Globe and Mail. Doris Rodewig, an artist from New York City, was invited by the Navy to record the recovery. The two were given the admiral’s quarters for the short cruise.

There was plenty of action aboard. With the recovery team in the lead, the ship’s crew spent the time rehearsing the entire process, using a “boiler­plate” Command Module that could be put in the water and hoisted. The medics were preparing their equipment in the six medical trailers deployed on the hangar deck to receive, examine, feed, and house the crew. The deck crew vacuumed and swept the twenty-two yards of red carpet between the port aircraft elevator and the trailers.

A lucky ridge of high pressure had kept bad weather away from the land­ing area, but as the morning of Friday the twenty-second dawned, multi­ple cloud layers threatened to give the helicopters a hard time sighting the capsule. Lydia Dotto wrote: “On the bridge, a dozen officers talk in mut­ed tones, waiting for the fix on the spacecraft as it comes down. Navigator Commander Newton Youngblood and his men huddle over their charts, plotting the ship’s course. Dials and gauges glow red in the darkened room. Now, as the cloud-shrouded sun brings a grey light to the sky, everyone waits for the sight of the three eighty-three-foot parachutes. . . .”

Just as the spacecraft reentered Earth’s atmosphere, the clouds began to break up. A slash opened in the sky, the tops of the clouds glowing red from the rising sun.

The Command Module, its three orange-and-white parachutes gauzy in the morning light, dropped right through the break. As it splashed into the water, four recovery helicopters converged on the scene, dropping swimmers with rafts and a flotation collar to stabilize the spacecraft. Lt. (jg) Tim Ken­ney, commanding officer of the swimmers, gave a thumbs up to the chop­pers, meaning he’d established radio contact with the crew, and they were ok. With that, Capt. Norman Green took the con and steered Ticondero – ga the final six and a half miles. Engines back one-third, and she steadied beside the spacecraft.

For the astronauts, water impact had not been very hard. Pete hit the chute release switch promptly, and the spacecraft bobbed to the upright position. Joe took his and his crewmates’ pulses: lying on the couches, eighty-four for Pete and Joe, seventy-six for Paul; semistanding in the lower equipment bay, about ninety-six for everyone. They were fine, but those heart rates showed that they were fighting the unaccustomed gravity. Pete and Paul returned to their couches; Joe fetched the strawberry drink he’d prepared before reentry and chug-a-lugged it. His gut told him almost immediately that this was a mistake. He paid for it later aboard ship.

Hoisting up the Command Module and depositing it carefully on the ele­vator at hangar deck level was routine. For six anxious minutes those outside waited while yellow-overalled technicians prepared the module for open­ing. There was a moment’s confusion because Pete had already unlocked the hatch from inside.

Pete was determined that this crew was going to egress unassisted. He knew the cameras would be on them. “There’s no way we’re coming out of here on litters,” he told his crew. Mel Richmond, in charge of the NASA recov­ery team, said that Pete was right at the hatch when it was opened—“He was on his haunches, ready to jump out.” According to Lydia Dotto, he looked “like a man from Mars peeking out of some outer-space vehicle for his first look at Earth.” With a hand on each arm he was eased to the plat­form and immediately given a blue Ticonderoga baseball cap to replace the white fireproof model he was wearing. Kerwin was already feeling seasick after his strawberry drink; Pete said to Mel and Dr. Chuck Ross, the Sky – lab I Crew Surgeon, “We need to get Joe the hell out of here; he’s not feel­ing that good.”

Weitz appeared next, then Kerwin. Each tested his legs gingerly and waved to the cheering Navy crew. Then one by one with one hand on the railing, they descended the platform’s steps, each accompanied by a NASA physician; Conrad with Chuck Ross, Kerwin with Jerry Hordinsky, and Weitz with Bob Johnson. With smiles and waves they walked slowly and with wide gait down the sixty-six-foot-long red carpet to the interior of the hangar deck and the Skylab Mobile Medical Laboratories. All three felt vertigo, the sensation that the world was spinning, when they moved their heads; and all felt abnormally heavy. Weitz likened it to riding a centrifuge at four times gravity.

A full day of medical testing was planned. All the researchers wanted to get that precious data on the crew’s response to gravity on recovery day, “r+o,” before any readaptation had taken place. But it was apparent that the men were fighting serious fatigue—they’d been up for seventeen hours on little sleep before arriving on Tico’s deck.

Conrad was in the best condition; his in-flight insistence on a lot of exercise had paid off. He got through all the testing, including a treadmill run and Lower Body Negative Pressure. Weitz tolerated the lbnp about as well as he had in flight. He undertook the ergometer run but was unable to finish. Allowed to lie down, he recovered rapidly and completed his oth­er tests. Kerwin threw up the strawberry juice in the trailer. He felt a little better after that, but the lbnp run was only carried to the second of three steps, and the doctors decided not to ask him to run on the ergometer until the following morning.

After a couple of hours of medical examinations, the crewmen called their wives. Kerwin told his wife, Lee, that he was tired and seasick and had thrown up in the medical trailer but would be fine after a good night’s sleep. Armed with that knowledge, Lee was able to respond later to a call from Dr. Chuck Berry. He told her that Joe was pretty sick, and they didn’t know whether it was cardiovascular or vestibular. Lee said, “It’s vestibular, Dr. Berry.”

That afternoon Conrad and Weitz spent half an hour on the flight deck. They were surrounded by NASA people and a Marine escort, all wearing sur­gical face masks. They were greeted by Captain Green, who did not wear a mask but was careful to stand well downwind from the two astronauts. The reason for the face masks was that the astronauts still represented a valu­able and unfinished medical experiment. NASA intended to collect detailed data for the next three weeks while they recovered and did not want illness to bias it. Green apologized for the strong wind blowing across the deck. “I haven’t seen any wind or sunshine for twenty-eight days,” responded Con­rad, “so don’t apologize. It really feels great.”

By Saturday morning the astronauts were feeling human and hungry. All participated in a full schedule of medical tests. Kerwin especially seemed much better. The trio was allowed some time to walk around on the deck area for exercise and relaxation, while Navy people maintained the pre­scribed distance.

That afternoon Dr. Ross was summoned to the bridge by Captain Green. The skipper told him that a very important private phone call was being linked to the ship for him. The phone rang; Captain Green activated the speaker and a voice said “stand by for the President.” Ross remembered, using the third person for himself:

“It was only a matter of a few seconds, with Ross ‘reeling’ from some dis­belief, and not from the ships to and fro action, that the voice on the oth­er end said “Hello, Dr. Ross, this is President Nixon.” At this moment Ross still could hardly believe in the reality of the situation, but recognized quick­ly that this could not be one of the sl-i crew or other playful astronauts in

Houston playing the ‘supreme joke’ to the discomfort of a NASA Flight Sur­geon. Dr. Ross in a definitely higher pitched voice, while attempting to regain full self-control of himself, replied ‘Yes sir, this is Chuck Ross.’

“With full appreciation for what the sl crew had just done for this coun­try President Nixon requested a visit by the Skylab I crew the next day to the ‘Western White House’ in San Clemente. He did state that he hoped all the individuals were well enough to attend and it was his understand­ing already from NASA that if Dr. Ross gave the ‘thumbs up medical clear­ance’ the event could take place. Ross’s mother had not raised an Einstein, but although he had not written the book ‘Personal Presidential Commu­nications for Dummies’ (still does not exist) he thought that the event had most likely been blessed from NASA Headquarters.”

Actually, Ross had some trouble convincing Dr. Hawkins back in Hous­ton that all three were fit for the visit. Hawkins had attended to yesterday’s reports that Kerwin was pretty sick and wanted him kept behind. Chuck “had to do a real medical sales job,” he recalled but eventually prevailed. The only nonnegotiable condition was that the crew wear masks, since obvious­ly the president wasn’t going to. The word was passed: “You might like to know that the wearing of surgical masks by yourself and the crew is under­stood by the president and is thought to be the proper thing to do.”

NASA flight surgeons never know quite what their duties are going to involve. That evening Ross discovered that due to predicted fog at San Cle­mente, the ship’s helicopter would take him and the crew instead to the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, whence they would drive to San Clemente with a military escort. And to preserve the crew from possible infection, he would be the limousine driver. And he was told what the crew already knew—the President was going to be accompanied by Leonid Brezhnev, the leader of the Soviet Union. Tomorrow was getting more complicated by the hour.

The crew wanted to bring gifts to present to Nixon and Brezhnev. Volun­teers from Ticos carpentry shop turned to and worked through the evening to produce three shadow boxes to hold flags and patches that had flown on Skylab. The astronauts complimented them on their work and gave them patches as well.

At 0800 hours (8:00 a. m. to you landlubbers), with the Ticonderoga five miles offshore and steaming toward its San Diego home port, the crew and

Pete: “Very good.”

29. Conrad and Kerwin (sans masks) are greeted by Brezhnev and Nixon.

Dr. Ross launched from its deck in a helicopter piloted by Cdr. Arnold Fies – er. It was the last operational flight to depart Tico’s deck. At El Toro the lim­ousine turned out to be an old Rambler station wagon (to Chuck’s relief.) The Marine escort in another vehicle was a bit speedy and lost them at a stoplight—but came back and found them again. They reached San Cle­mente on time and were escorted to the outdoor Protocol Area where the meeting was to take place.

Then came Ross’s undoing. As the president and the Soviet leader approached, Conrad turned to his fellow crewmen and said, “This isn’t right. We’re not wearing masks in front of the president.” He took his off and stuffed it into the pockets of his Navy whites, and Kerwin and Weitz followed suit. There was nothing Chuck could do.

The meeting went well. Gifts and compliments were exchanged, and the astronauts were invited by Brezhnev to visit the Soviet Union. They then flew directly from San Clemente to the Tico, landing about noon. The crew was relaxed, with just a few more medical tests before flying home to Hous­ton. Ross was not; he still had to contend with Dr. Hawkins.

The crew took a short break upon arrival for a lunch of specially pre­pared Skylab food and fluids. Then the medical tests required for R+2 were

accomplished efficiently and professionally with the crew looking very good. An abbreviated call was made from the docked Tico to Houston at 4:15 p. m. to present the most important clinical information while leaving some of the research data to be discussed in the following days back in Houston. Ross continues with his recollections:

“There was so much emphasis on making the 5:00 p. m. (pdt) takeoff time that the conference call was cut short. In a very short time this would

be rectified from the flight deck of the returning aircraft. In fact some of the jsc hierarchy had a definite need to talk with Dr. Ross; have you ever won­dered about the statement, ‘Were your ears burning?’

“The sl-i crew and members of the medical and recovery teams were trans­ferred to a c-141 for the return flight to Houston. Shortly after take-off and when the aircraft had cleared the San Diego traffic area, a call came for Dr. Ross. The radio operator had provided him a good fitting earmuff headset with a boom mike. This snug but comfortable headset was necessary to pre­vent the next comments from loosening the headset from his head. There was no doubt that the made-up statement “hell hath no fury like a protocol ignored” was coming to fulfillment. Royce Hawkins was definitely upset as he started the communication with the statement: ‘Chuck, we saw you on television with your mask on, but where were the crew’s masks?’ Ross man­aged to maintain his professional composure as he responded: ‘Royce, this is a long story that is better managed face to face when I return to work at jsc on Monday.’”

Early in the week, when the crew and medical team were back in Hous­ton, Captain Conrad took full responsibility for the decision of the crew not to wear the protective masks while visiting the president. At last the “heat” dissipated off the crew surgeon, and life started coming back to the routine of postmission follow-up medical work.

The crew members were welcomed that night at Ellington Air Force Base and reunited with their families. They only got to wave at their chil­dren from a distance—no kids, no chance for a school infection for the next eighteen days.

After the program ended, the accomplishments of Skylab 1 were summa­rized by the astronauts in talks given to the Congressional Committee on Space and Technology. Dr. Kerwin summed it up, after describing the med­ical findings: “You’ve all experienced teamwork in your lives, I hope. Real teamwork is memorable. And in space it’s just the same. People perform up there the way they do down here. Their capabilities, individually and col­lectively, and their potential, and their weaknesses are the same.

“Hopefully, space stations will be a reality at some time during the next human generation. Five days before our crew was launched, we went out­side in the evening to watch Skylab pass overhead. It moved pretty rapid­ly, but it shone as bright and steady as a star, and we knew it was going to be up there for a long time. To me, it was as though we were going up to homestead a new state—as though that vehicle were the fifty-first star on the flag. The territory is still open and there’s a lot to be done up there. We’ll be ready when you are.”

Homesteading Space

The book that follows is a riveting, insightful account of the Skylab mis­sions flown by the United States in 1973 and 1974. It is also simply a great yarn. Skylab began as an underdog, was nearly knocked out several times, staggered back to its feet, and fought on against overwhelming odds until it became a champion. In a lot of ways, it was the Rocky of space, and just like the story in that great film, it is an inspiration for all who know it. The difference is the remarkable saga of Skylab is all true.

For those of us who are old hands at NASA and in the space business, it is sometimes easy to forget what a great adventure it was and still is. Ulti­mately when all the layered explanations of why we go into space are peeled away, adventure remains at its core. But adventure aside, there are many quite practical reasons to go off our home planet. For one, the solar system is awash in energy resources such as microwaves and solar energy, and even the helium-3 isotopes that cover our moon seem perfect for futuristic fusion reactors. For another, the absence of gravity might ultimately produce won­derful new products, even life-saving medicines. And where else but space can we go to get above our light and radio-wave-polluted Earth and gain unobstructed views of our sun, the solar system, and the universe? Space is a scientific gold mine, and I believe some day it will be an economic one as well. But to be successful in the cosmos, we have to first figure out how to get there and stay. In other words, we have to learn to homestead space. This book tells how we first began to understand how to do that, through the program known as Skylab. Although often neglected by spaceflight historians, Skylab provided the key to all human space activities that fol­lowed. Quite simply, it was the series of flights that proved to the world that humans could live and work for long periods in space.

I grew up in the golden era of science fiction where all the spacemen (and spacewomen, though often scantily clad) were stalwart and brave. They were sort of ingenious, techno-savvy Davy and Polly Crocketts conquer­ing the wild frontier while riding rockets. The robots in those tales were usually built only to help their humans through some difficulty (“Danger, Will Robinson!”), and the mightiest computer was the one every human had between his ears. If people were to explore space, they’d just have to go there themselves and have a look around. There was no other way. Not many of my favorite old-time writers guessed that by the time we were actu­ally able to go into space, there would be a revolution in robotics combined with minimizing the size and maximizing the capabilities of computers. The reality of early spaceflight (and that’s where we are now—very, very early) is that it is far easier, cheaper, and faster to send a robot than a human into space to explore and send back information on anything we please. But does that satisfy us? No indeed, and it shouldn’t. For instance, we are also perfectly capable of purchasing a video travelogue of Paris. From the com­fort of our living rooms, we can see the traffic passing beneath the Arc de Triomphe and the strollers along the Champs Elysees. But can we experi­ence Paris with a video? No. We can only get a sense of what it is like. We can’t look around a corner to see where some interesting alley might lead, or sit on a park bench and smell the aroma of fresh bread, or discover a new artist in the Louvre. It is the same for space. Ultimately to experience it, to gain from it all the riches it holds, the old sci-fi writers were correct. We humans must climb into pressurized containers and boldly rocket into the cosmic vacuum and there wrest from it with our own two hands all that it holds. In other words we still need spacefaring Meriwether Lewises and William Clarks off on bold adventures while accomplishing important sci­entific and economic work for the nation. The men and women who built and operated Skylab understood this and were determined to make such space accomplishments possible.

Skylab was designed to gain scientific knowledge in Earth orbit by utiliz­ing equipment originally designed to carry men to the moon and back. It could be fairly said that Skylab was built from the spare parts of the Apollo program. Accordingly it was often neglected while the moon shots got all the energy and money, but eventually its time in the sun came, and what a grand time it was! Looking back now it’s astonishing what we learned

from it. During its three crewed missions, a trove of scientific knowledge was harvested that is yet unmatched by any other space facility, including the International Space Station. Skylab’s huge volume, its well-constructed and considered scientific packages, its ability to generate more than ade­quate electrical power (after some emergency repairs!), and its focused crews made it, in my opinion, the finest comprehensive science and technological platform any country has ever sent into space. But I have to confess what I really, really like about Skylab is this: When it got into trouble, spacemen armed with wrenches, screwdrivers, and tin snips were sent up to fix it. No robots, no computers, no remotely controlled manipulating arms, just guys in suits carrying tools. The old sci-fi writers would have loved it!

Of course, with any space mission there is far more to the story than the spacecraft itself, or the crews. There must first be the visionaries who conceive the mission, then the politicians who must back it, followed by the armies of engineers, managers, accountants, and myriad other profes­sionals who make it all work on the ground before the first rocket engine is lit on the pad. As this book informs us, one of Skylab’s visionaries was a favorite of mine, none other than Dr. Wernher von Braun. In my mem­oir, Rocket Boys/October Sky, I told how when I was a teenager, more than anything in the world, I wanted to work for Dr. von Braun. In fact his bril­liance was the distant, flickering flame for all the rocket boys and girls of that era and the reason a lot of us became engineers and scientists. Part of the fun of this book is reading how Dr. von Braun just went ahead and did things, including building the giant Neutral Buoyancy Simulator (nbs) at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The nbs was a big tank of water that allowed astronauts and engineers to simulate the weight­less conditions of space. I am very appreciative that Dr. von Braun cut a few bureaucratic corners and built the nbs. Not only did his tank ultimately save Skylab, it also saved me when I suffered a bout of decompression sick­ness and had to be treated in its chamber. It was a great facility, although now sadly abandoned and fallen into disrepair. People ask me these days if I miss working for NASA. I do, sometimes, but mostly because I can’t dive in the grand old nbs.

Although Skylab was accomplished before I became a NASA engineer, I did work on similar space missions, including training astronauts to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. That was an intricate, difficult mission but we

knew we could do it because we had the example of Skylab’s repair. I also worked on Spacelab, which was a science laboratory carried in the Space Shuttle’s cargo bay. The Spacelab program, which proved to be a wonderful set of science missions, was profoundly affected by Skylab. Many times while working on a Spacelab situation, I heard, “Well, when I worked on Skylab, something like this happened and we. . .” Invariably the information given solved the problem we were working. One might suspect we Spacelabbers resented help from the old Skylab hands but not so. When there’s work to be done in the space business, listening to veterans who’ve already done it is a smart thing to do. I’m proud to say that’s what we did, at least on Spacelab and the Hubble Space Telescope repair missions.

I count as a good friend one of the authors of this book, astronaut Owen Garriott. With our friends and family, he and I have explored the Galapa­gos Islands and also hunted in Montana for dinosaur bones. It is fascinat­ing to read this book and see a somewhat younger Owen aboard Skylab. Actually, from this account, he hasn’t changed much. He’s still a detailed observer of his surroundings and an amazing fount of scientific knowledge. He is also quite competitive and intensely focused. In other words he’s chal­lenging to be around and, therefore, the kind of friend we should all culti­vate. Over the years I’ve also met all the other astronauts who flew on Sky­lab, plus backup Rusty Schweickart and Capcom (and future first Shuttle pilot) Bob Crippen. When October Sky the movie came out, I invited Pete Conrad to attend. I was gratified when he showed up for the premiere, and it didn’t take long before we were deep in conversation, mostly about Sky – lab and our mutual experiences in the nbs. While my agent kept tugging at my elbow (“Homer, Steven Spielberg wants to say hello!”), I kept fending him off. Finally, I turned and barked, “Look, don’t you understand? I’m talking to Pete Conrad!" My agent slunk off, and Pete and I finished our talk, one I still savor. I also once had Dr. Joe Kerwin turn up in one of my book-signing lines. I was astonished, though supremely pleased to see him there. I knew then I’d written a pretty good book.

The scientific and technological brilliance and love of adventure of all the Skylab astronauts were remarkable. This was also true of nearly all the people who worked on Skylab, such as Chuck Lewis, my former (and great, not to mention indulgent) boss at NASA, and Bob Schwinghamer who let me work in the nbs. Perhaps it was luck, or good fortune, but somehow the program got the people it needed and deserved. As a result, nearly every American-crewed mission since Skylab has been profoundly affected by the experiences gained by its nine crewmembers and the thousands of men and women who conceived, promoted, designed, constructed, rescued, and then made operational that magnificent facility. Just as the title of this book indi­cates, Skylab ultimately taught us how to make space our home. For a facil­ity partially built from spare parts, I think that’s prodigious!

“A very pleasant ‘gotcha’!

It is important to note that there are two different systems of nomenclature for the Skylab flights. During the planning phase for the program, there was debate as to whether the unmanned launch of the Skylab workshop should be numbered as one of the flights or whether only the three crewed missions should be counted. Ultimately, it was decided that the launch of the station would be numbered; it would be Skylab i, and the three manned flights would be 2, 3, and 4.

That decision, however, had not yet been made at the time that the crew patches were designed and ordered, so the flight suits were produced bear­ing patches marking the three manned missions as Skylab 1, 11, and ill. As a result, both numbering systems were used in different places. Frequently, the former system is written using Arabic numerals, and sometimes with the two-letter mission abbreviation used for Skylab, thus sl-i through SL-4. The latter system is generally written with roman numerals and almost exclusive­ly with Skylab written out, thus Skylab 1 through Skylab ill.

For the purposes of this book, we abide by the conventions of using Arabic numerals, and generally the “sl” abbreviation, when using the former system and of using roman numerals for the latter system. However, to the greatest extent possible, we have avoided using either, referring to the missions with less-ambiguous terminology (“the first crew’s mission,” for example).

Pogue explained the numbering system for their mission: “When the Skylab crews were announced in 1971, the prime crews set about designing their mission insignia or ‘patch’ as it was usually called. The missions were officially designated as Skylab 1, for the unmanned launch of Skylab on the Saturn v, and Skylabs 2, 3, and 4 for the three manned visits, which were launched on Saturn IBs.

“That seemed simple enough, but mischief was not long in coming. We began receiving flight training and procedures documents labeled slm-i, slm-2, and SLM-3 for the three Skylab manned missions. Other documents were labeled sl-2, SL-3, and SL-4, which conformed to the official mission designations. We began receiving mail and documents clearly meant for one of the other crews and the astronaut office mailroom became as bewildered, confused, and uncertain as the rest of us.

“In the meantime we had designed our mission patches incorporating the official numeric designations of Skylab 2, 3, and 4. During a visit by the NASA headquarters director of the Skylab Program, Pete Conrad asked him, “Are we i, 2, and 3 or are we 2, 3, and 4”? He said, “You are i, 2, and 3”. All of us went back to designing new patches to incorporate the numerals i, 2, and 3. Skylab і and 2 used Roman numerals and Jerry, Ed, and I used the Ara­bic numeral 3. The designs were rendered by artists and sent to NASA head­quarters for approval. The whole process took several months, and the art­work didn’t arrive at NASA headquarters until about six months before the scheduled launch of the Skylab.

“The associate administrator for Manned Space Flight took one look at the artwork and disapproved the design because he said the official flight designations, ‘2, 3, and 4’ were to be used. Thus informed, we dug out our original designs (2, 3, and 4) and were in the process of getting the artwork done when we were informed by headquarters “not to bother.” We could use the designs for i, 2, and 3. Then we found out why the change of heart.

“The people who had manufactured the Skylab flight clothing (to be worn onboard) had already completed their work several weeks earlier in order to get the clothes packaged and shipped to the Cape to meet their deadline for stowage onboard Skylab, which was already in prelaunch pro­cessing. Furthermore, they had already used the designs submitted earli­er for the mission patches. They didn’t have time in their schedule to wait for official approval. The designs using the numeric designation i, 2, and 3 became approved by default because items with these patches were already manufactured and stowed in Skylab lockers at the Cape. Removing them for patch change-out was considered much too expensive and disruptive during launch preparations.

“So, although officially designated as Skylab 2, 3, and 4, the mission insig­nias bear the numeric designations as follows: Skylab 2 (Roman numeral i), Skylab 3 (Roman numeral ii), and Skylab 4 (Arabic numeral 3). When trav­eling in Afghanistan in 1975, I presented some Afghan VIPs with our Skylab

4 mission patch. One lady looked thoroughly confused and asked about the numeral 3 on the Skylab 4 patch. I gave her this long-winded explanation, and by the time I finished, the Afghans were roaring with laughter.

“Today it is especially confusing to autograph collectors who still scratch their heads trying to sort out their trophies.”


There are some things you just don’t want to hear in space. Among them: “There goes one of our thrusters floating by.”

The launch of the second crew of Skylab was something of a rarity in the history of human spaceflight. While it’s not uncommon for space launches to be delayed, scrubbed, and otherwise pushed back, the launch of the SL-3 Saturn IB was actually pushed forward. Though it had originally been sched­uled for 17 August 1973, concerns over the condition of the parasol installed by the first crew and the station’s “attitude-measuring” gyroscopes led to a decision to launch the second crew sooner so that the unmanned period could be shortened, and they could assume their role as Skylab’s caretak­ers more promptly. On 2 July the crew was told that they would be leaving earlier than planned and had less than four weeks to prepare for being away from the planet for a couple of months. Launch would be 28 July.

For rookie astronauts Garriott and Lousma, the moment they had long awaited had finally arrived. After seven to eight years of training and simu­lations, the two, along with veteran Bean, were about to be on their way to space. Jack Lousma was struck by the way the Saturn IB looked as the crew arrived at the pad. “It was dark when we got out there,” Lousma said. “I remember seeing it steaming away, and the oxygen venting, and the search­lights.” He remembered thinking to himself, “It’s just like 2001.” (“Which was then almost thirty years away, but it’s history now,” he added.) It was at that point that he realized that he was finally doing this for real; after all those years, the simulations were over. “At least they looked serious about it.”

There are a few special moments that somehow get placed into memory bank for the rest of one’s life. Since the science pilot lies in the middle couch for launch, he was the last to board so that he wasn’t in the way of the other two crewmembers as they got into their couches for launch. The ground crew

would first assist the commander into the left couch and get him all strapped in and connected up—a tradition that can still be seen today on television in preparation for each Shuttle launch. Then, after the commander, it was done again for the pilot in the right couch. At these times the science pilot was left standing on the walkway for some five minutes all by himself with his private thoughts some 380 feet above the ground, and looking out over the entire launch complex. “There was a long training period leading up to this moment,” Garriott recalled. “A fiery rocket would soon take our speed from zero to over five miles a second in less than ten minutes. Yes, it was probably the most dangerous ten minutes of the entire mission for us — and probably of our entire lives, for that matter—but we had planned for it for years, and we knew the options for escape if that should become necessary. Were we scared? I would say ‘no,’ but we knew the risks and had a healthy regard for the potential for disaster. Yet it was a very pleasant and introspec­tive few minutes, which I have remembered for decades. Only more recent­ly have I learned how other crewmen, and especially the other two science pilots, still recall and treasure these few moments waiting on the walkway.” If Lousma was at all scared at that point, he handled the pressure well—“I fell asleep on the launch pad,” he recalled.

Finally the countdown reached zero, and the wait was over. The SL-3 Sat­urn IB cleared the pad, and the crew was on their way into orbit. “One of the things I remember distinctly about launch was we had to get rid of the launch escape tower,” Lousma said. After the spacecraft reached an altitude where the launch escape tower was no longer needed for an abort situation, its motor was fired to separate the tower and its shroud from the Command Module. “When we did, that uncovered all the windows. After climbing to a considerable attitude, the escape tower took off like a scalded eagle. You could see a lot more.”

His first experience with staging, when one stage of the rocket burns out and separates and the next fires, is another memory that has stayed with him. “The engine shut down, and we had to coast for a little bit,” he said. “The separation of the first stage was memorable for me. A shaped charge cut the [launch vehicle] cylinder all around like a cookie cutter, with a kind of bang, and all this debris was floating around out there in a circle. It was spectacular in that it was just, bang, and all of this stuff went in a sort of disc configuration out around us.”

Garriott recalled the experience of reaching orbit as being exhilarating. “From pressed against our couch at several times our weight to floating in our harness in a fraction of a second. We were feeling great, literally ‘on top of the world,’ cruising along—well, coasting along—on our planned trajecto­ry to reach a Skylab rendezvous in a few more hours. Long-duration weight­lessness was new for Jack and myself, but it was not uncomfortable—at least not yet!—and we certainly were enjoying the view.”

Unfortunately just as with the sl-i launch of the Skylab’s Saturn v less than three months earlier, the beautiful launch was marred by malfunction. “I was in the center couch and Jack was on my right with a small window near his seat,” Garriott said. “He suddenly announced, ‘Owen, there goes one of our thrusters floating by the window!’”

And indeed the object Lousma had seen float by was a dead ringer for a nozzle from one of the Service Module’s quad thrusters. “I remember report­ing it and thinking this was odd,” Lousma said. “It was a conical shape just like a thruster, so it looked like a thruster bell, like a thruster nozzle. I don’t think that I quite deduced the implications of that at the time because we were so busy with the rendezvous procedures. We were moving onward, noticed that, reported it, went on to the next thing.”

While primary thrust for the Apollo spacecraft was provided by the one large service propulsion engine at the rear of the vehicle, directional con­trol was the job of the four smaller quad units, positioned on the outside of the Service Module, near the Command Module. Each quad unit consist­ed of four engine nozzles arranged in the shape of a plus sign with one noz­zle pointed toward the fore of the spacecraft, another toward the aft, and two more at right angles from those. The four quad units were positioned around the Service Module at ninety-degree angles from one another. From the crew’s perspective, there was one on the left of the craft; one on the right; one at the top, one at the bottom.

“With a quick look out the window, we agreed it certainly looked like a thruster, but we hardly believed it to be literally true,” Garriott said. Bean recalled the sighting being followed quickly by a thruster low-temperature master alarm. Added Garriott, “We promptly realized that there must have been a small propellant leak [oxidizer or fuel, meaning nitrogen tetroxide or hydrazine] which slowly crawled around the inside surface of the thrust­er and froze into ice in the shape of the metal thruster exhaust cone. Then when that thruster was fired the next time, even briefly, it must have shak­en the ice loose and it slowly floated by Jack’s window.”

With that interpretation, Bean checked with the ground for confirma­tion and had to turn off the propellants to that quad of four thrusters. With that one quad shut down the spacecraft had three more quads still work­ing fine. This had never happened before in spaceflight and was going to make the rendezvous difficult to pull off. There are no “time outs” in space to fix a problem.

Soon enough the crew began to close in on their target—first just a bright dot in the navigational telescope that grew brighter and began to take form as they got closer. Garriott’s excitement increased at seeing his new home growing larger as the Apollo craft approached it. “Soon we were close enough to see the Skylab with the darkness of space as the background for viewing,” he recalled. “Then the solar panels of the atm and one wing of the work­shop solar array could be resolved visually and even the orange parasol set by the first crew came into sight.”

“Before the boarding, however, we had to complete a successful rendezvous and docking in a crippled spacecraft,” he added. Rendezvous required the Apollo spacecraft to arrive in the near vicinity of the Skylab within 330 feet or so and match its velocity with that of the station. The commander had a schedule of quad thruster firings that had to be carefully executed to slowly match his speed to that of Skylab so that they would arrive on station with no relative motion. “Otherwise the crew might arrive at the Skylab rendez­vous point with too much speed, or even worse, possibly collide with Skylab in a terrible catastrophe,” Garriott recalled. “This actually happened dur­ing the manual rendezvous of a Progress vehicle at the Russian space station Mir some years later, with nearly catastrophic results. It should never hap­pen in normal circumstances, but ours was not normal. We had lost one set of quad thrusters and that meant less than full force was available—tech­nically, reduced ‘authority’—from the control system. But equally trouble­some, this failure also produced an asymmetric thrust since nothing com­pensated for the one lost quad on one side of the csm. Any translation such as braking to slow down produced unwanted rotation, and then rotational correction to bring the spacecraft back to the desired pointing direction, or attitude, produced unwanted translation!”

Also every time Bean used the thrusters to slow down, he had to fire them


30. The Service Module thruster quads are visible in this picture of the SL-4 Apollo spacecraft docked with Skylab.

for a longer period than scheduled to compensate for the reduced authority. This sequence—slow down, correct pointing direction, slow some more—was repeated many times during the rendezvous phase, and it all had to be done with precision to complete a successful rendezvous.

As the Apollo craft zoomed along at almost five miles per second around the Earth, its velocity relative to Skylab was only a few feet per second and this had to be slowly reduced to zero at the rendezvous point. Alan Bean said, “Back in the simulator, Owen, Jack, and I were really good at rendez­vous. We never missed a rendezvous in all our training time. They gave us failures by the zillions; we didn’t blink—we’d rendezvous. During our training cycle they gave us all the failures they could think of. Because they knew we were hot and could do this stuff. We never missed one. So lo and

behold, we get up in space, and I remember Jack saying a quad just floated by the window. We thought, ‘That can’t happen. A whole quad just can’t let go.’ About that time the master alarm came on for a low temperature of that quad. We quickly realized that it might have been a chunk of fuel or oxidizer ice shaped like the inside of the thruster and that’s what Jack saw as we fired the thruster.

“We realized we were lucky we didn’t have some sort of explosion and blow that leaky quad thruster right off and really have a problem. But it didn’t. So then we had to isolate that quad and not use it again. We’d nev­er done that in all our rendezvous training.

“We went through the failure mode checklist to isolate a quad. We went to the book; I had Jack read it to me. We had circuit breakers for each thrust­er; throw that one, not that one, and that one. It really incapacitated us a lot. The main effect we had was any time I did anything, we went off atti­tude in the other axes.

“Meanwhile we are coming up on burns [more thruster firings], tracking and all that other stuff needed to successfully complete the rendezvous. But still whenever I tried to brake, we went off in yaw. That was the big prob­lem. And the amount of braking wasn’t the same as with all four thrusters available; it was a lot less. That’s where Owen and I got into a discussion that I often remember.”

Garriott’s job at this time was to help Bean make sure the spacecraft was on the defined trajectory to arrive on station at the rendezvous point with zero relative velocity. In other words he was keeping an eye on how quickly they were “slowing” as they approached Skylab. “My advice to Al on the nec­essary braking or deceleration required would have been greatly facilitated if we had only had a range-rate measuring device on board,” he said. “But in 1973 these had not yet been developed. We had to estimate our ‘range rate,’ or the rate at which our distance from Skylab was decreasing, by taking two range measurements from our onboard radar transponder at two different times and then dividing the range difference by the time difference. Not the most accurate technique, but we had practiced as best we could. As we began to close, it became clear to me that the standard deceleration protocol, which Al was attempting to follow, was not slowing us down enough.”

Lousma, who had been concurrently running the same calculations during the initial portion of the approach, was reduced almost to bystander status during the final phase. “I had to make his backup calculations on the closure rate,” he said. “I was sitting there with this little HP calculator and punch­ing all those numbers in, going through this formula and backing up what the ground saw and what we saw in the spacecraft. There had to be a third vote and that was me. I never enjoyed making that calculation. You had to get it right. If you missed one keystroke, you had to start all over again and it was a long one. But that kept me busy. It kept me from bothering every­one else and being worried.”

Bean was doing the best he could to balance the competing concerns of attitude and velocity. “One of the worst things you could ever do was slow down too much,” Bean said. “Because then you had to use fuel to get clos­ing again, all the timing’s off, you came into daylight too soon—all these things were going on in my mind at that time, really zipping. I remember thinking I’d braked enough. We didn’t have range rate; we had range only. Owen could use the ranges and times and estimate range rate. He’s a great ‘back of the envelope’ guy, and he would look at the ranges and make a rec­ommendation. I remember braking and braking. When we did midcourse corrections, you only did them with the quad thrusters, we did not do it with the main engine. That’s where the problem was.

“Anyway, I braked and braked, but I didn’t know for sure what our range rate was. Owen was giving me recommendations, which was good, which we did in training. ‘You need to brake a little more.’ I remember Owen kept saying, ‘We’re closing too fast; you’ve got to brake some more.’ Finally after braking for what I thought was at least twice as much as we had ever braked in training, I said, ‘No, we’ve braked enough.’ Owen studied the comput­er range and said again ‘Alan, we are closing too fast; you’ve got to brake some more.’ ‘No, we’ve braked enough,’ I replied. I was concerned that our closure rate might be too little at this distance to complete the rendezvous. As I looked out my window Skylab seemed very small and far away; at least that is what I thought.

“During training Owen always stayed in the middle seat next to me during the braking phase of the rendezvous, right in front of the computer. Now all of a sudden Owen released his restraints and floated out of his couch down into the lower equipment bay. To say this caught my attention would be an understatement. He’d never done that before when we had a difference of opinion. I’d better rethink my decision, because Owen makes a lot fewer mistakes than I do. And when he believes this strongly but doesn’t want to argue with the commander, I’d be wise to listen up and so I did.

“Then I began to actually see that we were really closing. If Owen had not said that, we’d have zipped right by. I can remember Jack saying when we got closer, ‘Don’t hit it!’ That was on my mind too, but I was keeping it where I could see it. You can’t maneuver relative to an object unless you can see the object; I had to keep Skylab in the window and keep moving towards it. I had to keep moving along this ‘line of sight.’ It was not the pre­cise maneuver we had planned and practiced but I knew we weren’t going to hit Skylab, because I wasn’t going to let us hit it.

“I was also concerned that if we went by Skylab, Mission Control would tell us to wait and re-rendezvous. And that uses more fuel. That would be real embarrassing, even though we did have this failure. I would say that I had the highest heart rate I ever had during my two spaceflights, no doubt about it, more than landing on the moon. So then as we get close, I could see we might be able to stop, maybe, but for sure we weren’t going to hit it, and we actually stopped right underneath Skylab. Our best efforts and skills were tested. It was difficult, but it turned out okay; we did it.

“I’ve heard Kenny Kleinknecht [the project manager at jsc] and others congratulate us for doing it. The quad failure was a big one. They didn’t even give us that in training, so we had never, ever practiced that. Looking back on it now, as a crew we did a really good job. But the hero was Owen. If he had not said what he did, I would have sped past Skylab, and we would have had to re-rendezvous.”

After rendezvous the crew was to make one fly-around inspection of the whole Skylab at a relatively close distance, less than three hundred feet, to inspect the Skylab exterior. This too was complicated with one quad thrust­er inhibited. With considerable skill, Bean drove around their new home to be, being careful to not get too close, where the thruster jets might blow away the orange parasol deployed by the first crew, which was keeping the Skylab relatively cool.

Garriott kept a memento of that incident for years afterwards: “We had no general-purpose computers available in Apollo, only the special-purpose computers for navigation and other functions,” he said. “So before flight I obtained a HP-35 hand-held calculator to assist me in tracking our motion around the Skylab. We still had to estimate our range and range rate by eye, but we measured angles with the Apollo ‘attitude ball,’ and I entered the numbers into the calculator. The HP-35 was quite helpful with a small program I had written manually and entered into the calculator on a small magnetic strip.

“When I resigned from NASA some thirteen years later, I still had this now ancient calculator in my possession. Technology was now leaps and bounds ahead of this old ‘antique.’ But I listed all the government property in my possession at that time, including the HP-35, with a request to pay for and retain it personally. Naturally, this was more than government bureaucra­cy could manage, so I had to turn it in, after which it was probably junked some years later and lost to posterity as a potentially interesting artifact.”

The crewmembers in orbit were not the only ones having somewhat of a bad day. Lousma’s wife, Gratia, had returned home on the launch day, 28 July. That same evening after she had seen Jack depart on his adventurous rendezvous with Skylab, she was back home mucking out her horse stalls, even as a heavy downpour of rain threatened to flood their home near a creek in Friendswood. With three small children at home, she had to worry about the possibility of having their car submerged, so she drove it to higher ground and then walked back home in the heavy rain. Finally she just stopped and sat down in the middle of the road and had to laugh at the contrasting situ­ation, from celebrity to soaking stable hand, all within a few hours. (Coin­cidentally, Joe Kerwin’s wife, Lee, had a similar experience with flooding in a thunderstorm not long after her husband’s launch.)

The crew had managed to rendezvous with Skylab successfully and dock safely with their new home. By Mission Day 6, things were beginning to look up. The challenge of rendezvous was several days in the past, and after initial difficulties adjusting to life aboard the station, the crew was feeling better. Life on Skylab was beginning to fall into its routine for the second crew. But the problems with the Command Module’s thrusters were not over yet.

“When we awoke that morning we were getting right to work,” Garriott said. “I was checking my weight (body mass) in the slowly oscillating chair, the time period of the oscillation measuring the mass. Al might have been getting our eva hardware ready, while Jack was getting out the prepackaged breakfasts for all three of us.

“Jack happened to look out the wardroom window where he saw a very unusual sight and called me over to look. It was the first of a good many beautiful auroras we would see, in this case near New Zealand. We admired the long folded sheets of green ‘curtains,’ whose slow motion was notice­able with careful observation. It was sometimes tinged with red at higher altitudes, caused by a different chemical reaction in the high atmosphere about ninety kilometers, or about fifty-five miles or more, above the Earth’s surface but still more than three hundred kilometers beneath our Skylab perch in space—a most unique opportunity to view. I was just about to call the ground, half a world away, when a ‘snow storm’ came blowing by our wardroom window.”

Since a real snowstorm never occurs in space, the crew immediately knew that something was leaking from Skylab somewhere. Judging that the leak was probably from the Apollo spacecraft docked to the far end of the sta­tion, Lousma and Bean zoomed off through the workshop, the airlock, and the Multiple Docking Adapter to the Command Module in a matter of sec­onds, where they confirmed that another of their spacecraft’s quad thrust­ers had sprung a leak, even though all valves were turned off. With guid­ance from the ground, the systems were reconfigured so that all propellants to both of the leaking quads were completely cut off.

“I remember seeing that—shower spray was what it looked like—glistening in the sunlight,” Lousma said. “Shortly thereafter, the low-pressure alarms went off. Al hustled for the Command Module and shut everything off.

“I think for me that was probably the low point of the mission because it threatened our ability to get our job done, and I wasn’t willing to come home,” Lousma said. “I’ve never been afraid of space, but that was a fear that I had—losing the mission—more than anything else.”

Bean recalled that the crew got a call from Johnson center director Chris Kraft to discuss how to proceed. They told him that, despite the problems, they wanted to stay and complete their mission. “We were concerned that they were going to make us undock and come home, which we didn’t want to do, naturally,” he said.

Only two of the four quad thrusters were now usable and an extended debate was initiated, especially on the ground. There were two vital ques­tions that had to be faced. Could the crew maneuver home safely in a Com­mand Module with only half of its quad thrusters functioning? And more importantly was the problem isolated to only those two thrusters? With those were several related issues. The precise cause of the problems had to be identified. It had to be determined whether the two failures were con­nected. The likelihood of another failure had to be examined.

These in turn raised more questions: Could the crew successfully reenter with only one usable quad if there was another failure? Should they come home right away before there were any more failures? Was it possible to mount a rescue mission for the crew? Could a Command Module be reconfigured in time to allow one or two crewmen to come up to Skylab then return with three more passengers? Most of the answers had to be worked out on the ground with the large assembly of talented engineers and flight controllers. Of course the astronauts on orbit were very much interested in their think­ing, and wanted to participate in the decision making as well.

“Basically, we felt secure,” Garriott recalled. “Skylab was working well. There was plenty of food and water for many months. The only issue for us was a successful return to Earth. We had worked so long and hard to get here, we certainly didn’t want to come home now.”

But with so much uncertainty about the situation, work began on plan­ning a rescue mission that if necessary could bring the Skylab II crew home safely.

To some, the situation no doubt seemed to eerily echo a movie that had come out only four years earlier. In 1969 Columbia Pictures had released the space thriller, Marooned, based on a novel by Martin Caidin and star­ring Gregory Peck, Richard Crenna, David Janssen, and Gene Hackman. While the original version of Caidin’s novel was set at the end of the Mercu­ry program, the story was updated for the movie version, which focused on a crew of three astronauts that had just completed a long-duration mission on an s-iVB—based orbital workshop. As they prepared for reentry, however, their thruster system malfunctioned, leaving them unable to come home. In hopes of bringing the crew home safely, a daring long-shot rescue mis­sion was mounted. As in Marooned the thruster problems encountered by the crew on orbit sparked work on the ground to prepare a rescue mission. However, the real-life effort was not the daring desperation ploy of the fic­tional version. In fact planning for the possibility of a rescue mission had begun years earlier.

The first step toward the rescue mission was formalized with George Muel­ler’s flipchart sketch of a rough version of what would eventually become

Skylab, which led to the creation of the Multiple Docking Adapter with its spare radial docking port. Unused during normal operations, the adapt­er provided means for two Command Modules to dock with the station simultaneously should there ever be such a need, among which was a rescue mission. If, for whatever reason, it appeared that a crew would be unable to return in the Apollo spacecraft they flew into orbit, a second Command Module would be able to dock with the station at the unused radial port. Plans then called for the disabled capsule to be jettisoned before the Sky – lab crew left on the rescue vehicle, freeing up the axial port to be used by the next crew. Until the rescue crew arrived, however, the disabled vehi­cle would be left attached to Skylab so that its communications equipment could still be used.

The next step in making a rescue mission possible was to modify a space­craft to be able to carry more crewmen than the three in a standard Apollo Command Module. Without the technology for autonomous rendezvous and docking, the rescue craft would have to be launched manned, and each seat filled on the way up would be one less available for the ride back. Since there were three astronauts in the Skylab 11 crew, a standard Apollo capsule would not be able to bring them all home.

Ironically, Jack Lousma and Alan Bean, members of the very crew for whom the rescue mission was being planned, had played an important role in the design of the rescue-mission spacecraft. By late 1971 work on the res­cue vehicle configuration was well underway, and testing had begun on some of the modifications. “Alan and I had worked on the configuration for the Command Module for five-man reentry,” Lousma said, explaining that the two of them were picked to provide operator input on the design of the spacecraft not because they seemed like they might need to be rescued but rather because it was thought they could well be the first people that might have to fly it in the event that a rescue mission was needed to bring the first crew of Skylab home.”

The pair, Lousma said, spent a considerable amount of time at Rock­well, going through the same sort of design reviews for the modified Apol­lo that would have been needed for any new spacecraft. “We configured it such that there would be two couches on the floor underneath the main couches, one on each side of the package between us, which was going to be the critical experimental data,” Lousma said. “Three people would come


Зі. Modifications would have allowed the rescue Command Module to carry two additional astronauts behind the three standard couches.

down in the main couches, and two would be in the couches under the left or right seat.

“They had couches that fastened to the inside of the heat shield. It was like a molded seat you might lay in on the beach. It probably just had some tack-down, tie-down, or fasten-down points. So when Pete went up, that configuration was already confirmed.”

The biggest concern, he said, involved the potential “stroking” of the upper deck of couches. Those couches, the three that were standard on an Apollo Command Module, were designed to stroke, or have their supports compress like an automobile shock absorber, in the event of a hard landing. While usually unnecessary for a water landing, the stroking was an addi­tional safety feature included in the event that for some reason a crew had to make an unplanned landing on hard ground. If that happened, the supports would absorb some of the force, ideally preventing injury to the crew. For the rescue mission, the concern was that a couch that stroked would drop onto the astronaut in the couch below. However since no couch had ever stroked during the Apollo flight program, the risk was considered minimal.

The addition of the two additional couches came at the sacrifice of a sub­stantial amount of stowage space in the lower equipment bay, so bringing the crew home from Skylab in the rescue vehicle would mean that they would have to leave behind much of what they would have otherwise brought back with them, including results of experiments conducted during their stay.

Between the two crewmembers was a stowage area that would be reserved for the highest-priority items to be returned to Earth, and any leftover space in the lower area would also be filled for the trip home. “There was a priority list of what we wanted to bring back because we couldn’t bring it all back,” Lousma said. “Otherwise, the whole bottom was filled with bring back. Whatever they thought was the most important would come back there.”

“Ironically,” Bean said, “the highest priority items in premission plan­ning were the frozen urine samples and dried fecal samples. They would then be studied to ensure it was safe for the next crews to stay even longer in space.”

With nothing they could do about the thruster situation for now, the crewmembers on orbit moved ahead with life aboard Skylab. Meanwhile, on the ground, two astronauts learned that they were being called up for prime crew duty for the rescue mission. Commander Vance Brand, science pilot Bill Lenoir, and pilot Don Lind were the backup crew for both the sec­ond and third manned Skylab missions. All three men were unflown rook­ies. The two pilot astronauts, Brand and Lind, had joined the corps as mem­bers of the fifth group of astronauts selected, while Lenoir was a member of the sixth group, the second class of scientist astronauts. In addition to their backup crew duties, Brand and Lind had also been assigned as crewmembers for the theoretical contingency Skylab rescue mission. Those duties consist­ed mainly of providing crew input on the planning. They were involved, for example, in testing procedures for use of the modified vehicle. In essence they were the prime crew for a flight that did not exist.

With the problems being experienced on orbit, however, that mission changed from theoretical to imminent. “I don’t remember the exact time that I found out,” Brand said. “Of course you know that the backup crew included three guys, and if you had a rescue, there’s really only room for two crewmen going up so that five could come down. Fairly early on, without much delay Don Lind and I found out that we would be the rescue crew. We were pretty enthusiastic because we hadn’t flown in a spaceship.”

“I suspect that Bill was disappointed that it wasn’t him, but Don was elat­ed of course,” Brand said, adding that all of the members of the crew had trained for each role and that any of them would have been qualified for any role. (Lind, in fact, went on to make the switch for his Shuttle mission from pilot to mission specialist.) “I was not in the discussion that selected

the crew. We just found out. Both were capable of doing that job. Bill was a scientist but also an excellent engineer and pilot. Everybody cross-trained for everything.”

Once they were assigned to the rescue crew, Brand and Lind hit the ground running preparing for the mission as did many engineers, flight control­lers, and others throughout the agency and its contractors. “We had about a month to get ready,” Brand said. “I know that we decided very quickly after they had the two thruster quad failures. Everybody felt really under the gun. The hardware was being prepared at the Cape in a typical fash­ion. The agency—but mostly jsc, really—was responding to have every­thing ready in a month. We were completely serious about this. If anybody was thinking about the alternative, which is what really happened later, that they were able to deorbit, we weren’t thinking about that. We very much [believed] we were going up to rescue them.”

Several tasks were occurring simultaneously involving several different groups. “You will recall the effort that was mounted when the first manned mission encountered a damaged Skylab and the parasol and all that,” Brand said. “Well this was, while not quite that big, on the same order. It was very significant. Everybody was pulling together.”

Engineers were preparing the modifications that would allow Apollo Command and Service Module CSM-119 to be used to carry its two pilots and the three Skylab astronauts safely home from orbit and rapidly ready­ing the Saturn IB to launch it. “The Cape had accelerated their preparation of the SL-4 vehicle, and all of the stuff that was to configure it for a rescue was in place,” flight director Phil Shaffer noted. “So I think we could have gone fairly quickly.” In addition engineers on the ground were also working to figure out exactly what had caused the thruster problems in orbit. Rela­tively quickly they came to the conclusion that the two leaks were isolated incidents with little chance of the other two quads failing.

Brand and Lind spent long hours in simulators not only training for the specific requirements of this unusual mission but also making dry runs on the ground to make sure that everything would work as planned. In addi­tion, they were providing crew input to the other groups as they worked on different aspects of the mission. “We were involved in not only training but the planning, certification and verification, and stowage and that the couch [redesign] would work. We were just involved in a lot of the general


32. Vance Brand (left) and Don Lind in the official rescue crew portrait.

planning on how you would do this, which made it especially interesting,” Brand said, adding that the numerous obligations kept him and Lind quite busy during that time. “Those were very long days.”

Any fear that the crew in orbit had that their mission might be brought to an abrupt end after the second thruster failure was allayed fairly quickly. A few days after the failure, they were told that the rescue flight could not come and get them for at least a month, meaning that there was little point in not letting them finish out the full duration of their mission.

“Probably the long pole in the tent was getting the vehicle ready to go at the Cape, the Saturn IB and the integrated stack,” Brand said. “I recall seeing a launch preparations schedule. I think we would have been lucky to be off thirty days after that. But we were talking about that, aiming for that.” Though the purpose of the mission was unique in NASA’s history, its actual

flight profile was not that unusual. The launch, rendezvous, and docking portions would be very much like the last two flights to Skylab. (Hopefully much more by the book than the last one.) “It was pretty much a standard rendezvous,” Brand said. “They had two docking ports, and we would have just used the unused one.”

The time spent on orbit would have been relatively straightforward. “Not much more than required,” Brand said. “We would have to make sure cer­tain things were brought back. The primary thing was just getting the peo­ple back.” Likewise the return to Earth would have been fairly standard despite weight that normally would have been cargo instead being extra crew. “Because of all the similarities with rendezvous, etc., there wasn’t so much risk,” Brand said. “I guess you would have to say that looking at the overall thing, the main risk is just in chartering another mission. There’s always a risk with any mission because you could lose an engine or something.

“Of course, the other risk is anytime you do things in a hurry, there’s always a chance you might have overlooked something, though we didn’t think we did. And we probably both would have had a little more to do in flight because there were two crewmen instead of three.” About a month after work began on the rescue mission, the agency was adequately confi­dent that it could be flown successfully. “They got a long way,” Brand said. “We had hardware.”

There were a few interesting points about the reconfigured spacecraft, though, according to Don Lind: “One of the funniest things was when they had to reconfigure a Command Module with five seats, and we had to run all the tests and so forth. Well, a Command Module has two stable con­figurations [when floating in the water], one in the normal point-up posi­tion, which they call Stable i. But it would also float in good stability with the cone pointing straight down. That puts the seats not exactly strapped to the ceiling, but in a very strange position very high up on the wall as it starts to curve into the ceiling.

“So we had to test this. We took a test crew that was going to be rescued. Vance and I had some experience with this thing in Stable 2 with just the two of us. I realized out in the ocean with the waves pitching and rocking back and forth, it was incredibly difficult to tell which direction was down. So when we did this with five crewmembers, I was briefing the other three, and I said, ‘You won’t be able to tell which way is down, so when I tell you to unstrap, be sure you’re hanging on to something because you may feel like you’re falling straight up.’ Everybody looked at me like, ‘Oh, come on, Lind, how dumb do you think we are?’

“Well, it turned out when we got in Stable 2 that Bill Lenoir was the first one to unstrap. And as he did so, he just opened the seat buckle and fell up and slammed against the bulkhead. He looked at me like ‘Lind, if you say anything, I’ll get you.’ Of course, the other two were hanging on when they unbuckled. So there were interesting little light notes even as we were get­ting ready to fly.”

For Brand and Lind, however, helping to successfully plan the rescue mis­sion did not mean that it was time to relax. Instead they were given a new task and had to shift gears and start again. More long hours in the simula­tor awaited.

Having proven that a rescue mission could be flown, the agency began looking into whether it could be avoided. Brand and Lind worked with a team analyzing how well a Command and Service Module could maneu­ver without the two thrusters that had failed to see whether it could make a safe return, thereby avoiding the rescue mission.

“Near the end of our preparation period, management said, ‘Well, we believe we can do this, now let’s set about to see how we can get them down without expending the resources for a rescue mission,’” Brand said. “So just overnight we changed goals.

“We got the simulator adapted to the changed situation,” he said. “I spent a lot of time in the simulator on that. I must say in all of my work on the ground in the space program that was probably the most interesting time that I can remember. That whole exercise was very satisfying.”

However, the short-deadline nature of the work definitely could be a challenge to proper coordination. “I found out one piece of information that I thought was critical just when I was walking down the hall at work,” Brand said. “I spoke to the Draper representative, and he said, ‘Oh, by the way. . .’

“He said, ‘You know that when the crew up there gets ready to deorbit and they have to use plus-x, if you don’t hold full left тне [translation hand con­troller] , that might surprise them. They might go out of control and mess up the flight.’ So it was built into the procedure. I mentioned that at some point to Alan Bean, and got the information up to him. And I thought, ‘Gosh, why didn’t we know that?’ Maybe it was before we had an opportunity to simu­late that, because I’m sure we would have found it out in simulation.”

Despite the significant amount of fuel that had been lost during the leaks, running out of fuel was not something they needed to worry about. The Command and Service Module, after all, had been designed for going to the moon, and flights in low Earth orbit used only a fraction of its capabili­ty. The powerful primary Service Propulsion System main engine had to be capable of making the trans-Earth injection burn that pushed a spacecraft out of lunar orbit and back toward its home planet, and it stocked plenty of fuel for making that burn. The Service Module’s Reaction Control System may have lost a lot of its fuel, but the main engine had plenty to spare.

Two reentry procedures were developed. The first assumed that the two remaining good Service Module thrusters would be usable. It involved pilot­ing the spacecraft more or less as had been done during the rendezvous and docking, compensating for the missing quads.

The second procedure was even more creative and would not have used the propulsion systems in the Service Module at all. Instead, the entire reentry would have been handled with the smaller Reaction Control System (rcs) thrusters on the Command Module. Combined, those rcs thrusters could have generated enough thrust for the retroburn that would slow the space­craft down and bring it out of orbit—but just barely enough.

“We had a procedure to do it,” Brand said. “These thrusters were only designed to give you attitude control, so you had to figure out a way to beat the system to get translation out of it. I think it involved having two Com­mand Module hand controllers going in opposite directions at the same time, to actually get translation.”

The Command Module would have had just barely enough fuel. “I don’t think there was much room to waste any, but there would have been enough left after that to control the attitude of the spacecraft [during reentry]. Some­where I still have those handwritten procedures, copies of them, and they were rather bizarre.”

Flight director Phil Shaffer explained: “The solution to the attitude control problem turned out to be putting the cg [center of gravity] of the csm in the right place. When you translated fore and aft, it would rotate the spacecraft around where the real cg was. Once we figured out we had enough stuff on board to place the cg where we wanted it, then it became just a procedure,

which Vance did a wonderful job of working out in the simulator.” In par­ticular, Shaffer said, Brand and Lind had to put in a good bit of time fig­uring out how much burn it was going to take to get the desired reaction. “So it really worked,” he said. “Vance was the hero of the rescue team. Lat­er Alan told us that the heads-up on the тне duty cycle requirements had been extremely helpful.”

While the rescue crew was hard at work on the ground putting the proce­dures together, the crew in orbit was becoming anxious about when exactly they would see those procedures. While they had hoped that it would not be necessary to send up a rescue mission that would end their stay on Sky – lab prematurely, they were now eager to see that the ground had in fact fig­ured out a way for them to come home safely.

“Alan was understandably impatient,” Brand said. “It was, ‘When are you going to get those up here?’ And, just as in the case of Apollo 13, the people who were simulating these were just wanting to be 99.9 percent sure that everything was ok. So we put Alan off a little bit.”

Lind said that while the rescue crew task of figuring out how to retrieve the on-orbit astronauts and the backup crew task of figuring out if the wound­ed spacecraft could make it safely home were both very challenging, they were very different experiences for him. The latter he described as “purely a technical question—do you have the capability to control the Service Mod­ule during reentry in all the modes and all the reasonable failure modes? So it’s just a mechanical question about can this vehicle survive under any rea­sonable circumstances in the configuration it has.”

The issues involved in the rescue crew mission, he said, were more var­ied. There were the technical questions of configuring and operating the rescue spacecraft, but there were other logistical concerns not involved in the backup crew work. One of the biggest of those questions that he was involved in, he said, was figuring out what exactly besides the crew would be brought back. “When you put five guys in that Command Module, it’s rather intimate to start with,” even before the process of loading scientific cargo begins, he explained.

For Brand and Lind the work was accompanied by mixed emotions. After years of waiting, they had finally been assigned a spaceflight. They had done the training and simulations to prove that the mission could be carried out and that they were fully prepared to fly it. Next, though, they were given a

task that could cost them their spaceflight. If they succeeded in proving that the crippled Command and Service Module docked at Skylab could carry its crew home safely, then they would also prove that there was no need for the two of them to fly to rescue them.

“It was kind of a two-edged sword,” Brand said. “In a way, we had so focused on [the rescue mission] that it was a little disappointing that we wouldn’t get to do it. But on the other hand, we understood completely, and we set about working as hard as we could in traditional backup crew mode to help do the flight plan and preprocedures and everything so we could get them down on their own.” He said the disappointment of losing the flight was tempered by the knowledge that NASA was making the right decision by not flying the rescue mission. But it was still a bittersweet experience.

“We would jump at any chance to fly. You know, being an astronaut is a lot like being on a roller coaster. You have these high highs and low lows, dis­appointing events coinciding with the low lows and maybe getting assigned to something and just being top of the world, and so it cycles.”

“It’s hard to describe our feelings,” Don Lind said, “We were the back­up crew, and we needed to work out the procedures with the quads so that they could safely come home. You’re really dedicated; you really feel not just a professional obligation but also a personal obligation to the fellows on the crew that you know so well to do that job very well. So we did the very best job we could and were able to convince management that we had enough redundancy to safely bring the guys home with the quad problems.

“But we were also the rescue crew. And if we hadn’t been so efficient as the backup crew, we would have flown on a mission. After the whole thing’s done, you say, ‘You know, we’re good guys, but boy, are we stupid guys.’ “When you’re in that kind of situation, and many of us in the space pro­gram had been in the military, so when things really count, you simply knuck­le down and work very efficiently. Sure I had to get home and see my family occasionally, and yeah, you require sleep and that sort of thing. Your main emphasis is we’ve got to get this job done in a very limited time; we’ve got to work very efficiently. You obviously don’t take a day off to go play golf; that’s just not in the priorities. You have to relax a little bit, but you have to get the job done, so if you have to get up early in the morning to get in the simulator, you get up early in the morning and get in the simulator.

“You never really hope that anybody has any problems; you just don’t allow yourself those thoughts. But it was a long time before I flew. I was there for nineteen years before I flew. I had been in a group that was being trained to go to the moon, and I thoroughly expected to be the second scientist on the moon. Jack Schmitt was obviously going to fly the first because he had the whole geological community behind him, but I was obviously going to be the second one. And by darn they lowered the budget and canceled the last three flights, and only twelve guys walked on the moon, so big disap­pointment. [Official flight rosters were not made for these missions, and only Deke Slayton knew whom he would have assigned.]

“Then it happened again in Skylab because Vance and I had been the res­cue crew, and Vance and I and Lenoir had been the backup crew on the last two missions. It was completely obvious to everybody that when they flew the second Skylab [workshop], which was already built and paid for, that we were going to be the prime crew. Of course, then they lowered the bud­get, and they cut the second Skylab in half with a welding torch. And it’s now in the Smithsonian museum as the most expensive museum display in the world. Those things are professionally frustrating, but hey, that’s part of life. After a while, you quit whimpering and press on.”

Despite working themselves out of a spaceflight on the Skylab rescue mis­sion, both men would go on to eventually make their way into space. For Brand the wait was relatively short compared to the other astronauts still unflown at the time—a “mere” two years. Along with Tom Stafford and Deke Slayton, Brand flew the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the first joint U. S.- Soviet space mission. Stafford, the flight’s commander, was a veteran astro­naut who had flown most recently on the 1969 Apollo 10 mission that had tested the Lunar Module in orbit around the moon. Slayton was both the astronaut corps’ senior member and like Brand an unflown rookie, having been selected as one of the original seven Mercury astronauts but disqual­ified from flight status due to a heart condition. The astp crew launched on the final flight of the Saturn rocket and the Apollo Command Module and docked with a Soviet Soyuz crew in orbit. (Interestingly, the story of Marooned, with its depiction of an international cooperation rescue mis­sion, has been cited as a factor that helped inspire astp.)

When asked which mission he would have preferred to fly given a choice Brand said, “For the sake of [the Skylab 11 crew], I guess I would have picked astp, but if needed, I would have been very enthusiastic about a rescue mission.

It’d be something that, the rest of your life, would really stand out.”

Lind, on the other hand, would not fly for twelve years after the rescue mission he missed out on, a total of nineteen years after he joined the astro­naut corps. Though originally brought into the corps as a pilot astronaut, Lind, who had worked as a NASA space physicist prior to his selection, flew as the lead mission specialist on the 51-B mission of Challenger in 1985, the second Spacelab flight.

Looking back, he said the wait was well worth it. “Oh, yes, absolutely. Because the nineteen years was not just standing in line waiting,” he said. “For example, I had a [position] in the Apollo program that was very, very satisfying.” Lind explained that he was involved in the development of the lunar laser ranging experiment, which involved reflecting lasers off mirrors placed on the lunar surface to make precise distance measurements between the Earth and the moon. He said that his contributions helped make the ranging mirrors the only Apollo experiment still used over thirty-five years after the “corner reflectors” were left behind. “There were some very inter­esting, satisfying experiences going along, even when I spent six and a half years training for two missions that didn’t ever fly.”


If mankind is to travel from Earth to explore our universe, we will have to learn to live without the familiar experience of weight that is almost always with us on our home planet.

In the void between worlds, explorers will experience virtually total weight­lessness. It’s a strange environment without up or down, new to the body and with hidden threats, as big a step for us as was the classic emergence of life from the oceans onto dry land. They sputtered, we threw up, but apparently it won’t take us as long to adapt. The point is that the process of really understanding “weightlessness” and really adapting to it was started by nine men in 1973. This is the story of that adventure.

Skylab was America’s first step toward making space something other than a nice place to visit. Developed in the shadow of the Apollo moon missions and using hardware originally created for Apollo, the Skylab space station took the nation’s astronauts from being space explorers to being space res­idents. The program proved that human beings can successfully live and work in space.

For many members of the public, Skylab is perhaps best known for two things—its beginning and its end. During the May 1973 launch of the Sky­lab workshop, an unanticipated problem damaged the station on its way to orbit. And of course, Skylab captured the world’s attention with its fiery re-entry over the Indian Ocean and Australia in 1979.

But between those bookends lies a fantastic story of a pivotal period in spaceflight history. Skylab’s three crews lived there for a total of six months, setting — and breaking — a series of spaceflight duration records. While pre­vious U. S. spaceflights were focused on going places, Skylab was about being somewhere, not just passing through the phenomenal space environment, but mastering it. Everything that was to come afterward in U. S. spaceflight was made possible by this foundation—from scientific research in micro­

gravity on the space shuttle to the on-orbit assembly of the International Space Station.

Even the unanticipated challenges that arose during the Skylab program turned into opportunities. The damage that crippled the spacecraft during launch became a rallying point for NASA and led to a repair effort that was unplanned and unprecedented—and perhaps still unparalleled.

This book is the story not only of the nine men who lived aboard Skylab but of all those who made the program a reality. And, like Skylab itself, this book depended on the contributions of a variety of people who shared their stories.

One of the pleasant surprises encountered in writing our story came in late 2005 when we showed Alan Bean (commander of the second manned mis­sion) our draft of the second mission chapter. We had relied on the chron­ological account from Garriott’s in-flight diary to tie together the events and to develop the story of that mission.

Much to our surprise, Alan said that he, too, had kept an in-flight diary and offered it to us for inclusion in this book! Naturally we took him up on that offer and were then absolutely amazed to find the extent of his hand­written account—more than one hundred pages of carefully written—albeit very difficult to decipher—print and script.

It covered not only events on board but also interpersonal relationships, his thinking and action to promote team spirit and optimum performance, his thoughts of home and family, and even more. We then incorporated as much of the “Bean Diary” in the story of the second mission as we thought appropriate and then added his full diary as an appendix to assure that all of Alan’s thinking will be available to others.

Alan had kept the existence of the diary to himself for over three decades. Neither of his crewmates was aware that it had even been written. We are pleased and feel fortunate to include it here where others can better under­stand the thinking of arguably the most highly personally motivated crew­man to fly in space.

Each of the eight living members of the Skylab crews has shared their stories with us, providing fresh perspectives of this unique experience. We deeply regret that the program’s “Sky King”—first crew commander Pete Conrad—was not able to participate personally in this project. But his voice lives on in this book through previously recorded material.

You will also find portions of numerous interviews with Skylab engineers, scientists, managers, flight controllers, and other astronauts. We were struck by their unanimous view that Skylab was one of the most significant events in their professional careers—if not the most significant. Perhaps more to be expected, that is also true for all of the Skylab astronauts as well.

Yet, there has been very little written about the three missions themselves. Again almost all of our interviewees were most pleased to find that some of the crew were finally undertaking to report on these events from the per­spective of those involved and, hopefully, that the contributions coming from all of the Skylab team would not be lost. Unfortunately we will cer­tainly fall short of reaching the goal of recognizing even a modest part of their enormous contribution, but we do want to acknowledge their prime role in making the Skylab program the success we believe it came to be.

We hope that the dedication of this book reflects a little of that debt owed to the thousands of team members who really made it happen.

For all three of us, this book has been a true labor of love, and it is a story that we are very proud to be able to tell.

Getting Ready to Fly

Joe Kerwin recalled: “Here’s the story about my first brush with Skylab: One day in January 1966, Al Shepard said, ‘Kerwin and Michel, I want you to go out to the Douglas plant in California. Marshall’s working on an idea of using the inside of an s-ivb fuel tank as an experimental space station.’ So we called out to Ellington for a T-38 jet and flew to Huntington Beach. At the plant they made us put on bunny suits and slippers, then showed us to the end hatch of a freshly manufactured s-ivb lying on its side. The hatch had been removed, leaving an opening about forty inches in diame­ter into the fuel tank.

“We noted that the hatch was secured with seventy-two large bolts. ‘How will the astronauts remove it in flight?’ we asked. ‘We’ll give you a wrench,’ they replied. We climbed into the tank. It was big enough, all right—about thirty feet long and twenty feet in diameter. It was empty except for a long metal tube along one side—the ‘propellant utilization probe’—and a cou­ple of basketball-sized helium tanks. There was a faint chemical smell com­ing from the fiberglass, which covered the interior. It felt like standing in the bare shell of what was going to be a home someday after the builders had finished with it.

“‘What would we do in here,’ we asked. ‘You can fly around in your suits.’ Perhaps you’ll test a rocket backpack. (That was prophetic.) And Marshall was even considering a plan to pressurize the tank with oxygen, so we could remove our spacesuits. That was a start!

“Curt had a conversation with the project rep about what experiments could and would be performed. After our return to Houston, he wrote Al a memo which likened the experiment selection process to ‘filtering sand through chicken wire.’ We were both inexperienced, glad to have some­thing to do, and skeptical. I did not dream that seven years later I’d spend a month inside that tank, in space.”

Getting Ready to Fly

8. Joe Kerwin tests the vestibular-function experiment during Skylab preparations.

From a crew perspective, the development of the Skylab space station and the training of the astronauts who would live there are in many ways the same story. Usability is a primary concern in developing new space hard­ware. To ensure usability engineers would turn to the people who would be using that hardware. Throughout the development of Skylab, crewmem­bers would be brought in to give input on hardware as it was being designed and tested. So in many cases, they learned to use the equipment by helping its designers make it usable. Crew involvement began early in the develop­ment with the first Apollo Applications Program assignments being made in the astronaut office years before the first moon landing.

“Of course, those were early days for Skylab, and we’d looked at a tiny sample of ‘bottom-up’ planning, while the ‘top-down’ planning was tak­ing place elsewhere and would answer a lot of our questions,” Kerwin said. “ ‘Elsewhere’ was largely at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Not long after our trip to Huntington Beach, I was invited to observe a meeting between a visiting delegation from Marshall and msc managers. The Marshall peo­ple gave a briefing on their plans for the ‘Apollo Applications Program,’ as it was then called. They sketched several missions on an ambitious sched­ule and asked for operations and training participation. The msc managers

basically said, ‘That’s great, but we’re busy going to the moon.’ So the team from Marshall left, saying over their shoulders, ‘This is going to happen!’ And so it did. It was still seven years from launch, but activity got started, and astronauts began to participate. We all had various assignments then, supporting Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab, and they changed fairly often, but Skylab began to take more and more of my time and attention.”

Kerwin recalls standing around with a group of colleagues one evening in 1967 in the mockup building at msfc. Someone had drawn with chalk a big circle on the floor, twenty feet in diameter, representing a cross section of the s-ivb tank. In the circle the astronauts worked with Marshall engi­neers on deciding how best to arrange the sleeping, eating, bathroom, and experiment quarters. “Al Bean was our leader at that time, and Paul Weitz, Owen Garriott, Ed Gibson, and a few other astronauts were there too, with several engineers,” Kerwin said. “We had a great time and began to devel­op a friendly relationship with that s-ivb fuel tank.”

In the earliest days of the Apollo Applications Program, the astronauts working with the program were a loosely defined group, with members rotat­ing in and out as they began and completed projects for other programs. While the official flight crew rosters were not announced to the public until 18 January 1972, the group from which the assignments were made had been assembled about two years earlier.

“Pete Conrad had just come off his Apollo 12 flight, which was Novem­ber ’69, so this had to be around January or February of 1970 when Slayton came into a pilots’ meeting on a Monday morning,” Kerwin said in a NASA oral history interview. “He had a sheet of paper in his hand. He said, ‘The following people are now formally assigned to crew training and mission development for the Skylab program.’ He read the names of fifteen people. He didn’t say who was prime, who was backup, who was what mission or anything else. All he said was that Conrad was going to be ‘Sky King’; he was in charge, and he would tell us all what he wanted us to do.”

The list included not only the nine astronauts that would make up the Skylab prime crews—Conrad, Kerwin, Weitz, Bean, Garriott, Lousma, Carr, Gibson, and Pogue—but also the six astronauts who would form the back­up crews. “We had no idea what that list meant,” Kerwin said. “There was a lot of speculation going on about who was going to be on what mission. There were fifteen of us, which meant that there were three prime crews, but only two backup crews. So somebody was going to have double duty as a backup crew it looked like unless the first prime was going to be the last backup. Deke didn’t say. Deke was not a man of many words. He didn’t say more than he thought was necessary at the time. It turned out, again in ret­rospect, that the way he had read that list was first prime, first backup, sec­ond prime, second backup, third prime, exactly in order.”

In April 1971, “Sky King” Pete Conrad sent a memo to all of his “Skytroops” specifying who would be responsible for what. He made the assignments based on experience and on equalizing both the training and the in-flight workload.

The commander (cdr) would have overall responsibility for the flight plan and training; he’d also be responsible for the Apollo space­craft systems and spacewalks. Estimated training hours: 1,411.

The science pilot (spt) would be responsible for medical and atm hardware and experiments and would be the second spacewalk crewman (in the end all three crewmen trained to make space­walks). Estimated training hours: 1,500.

The pilot (plt) would be responsible for airlock, mda (Multiple Dock­ing Adapter), and workshop systems and for the Earth Resources Experiment Package (erep) hardware and experiments. Esti­mated training hours: 1,420.

Each of the fifteen men on the prime, backup, and support crews was also assigned specific experiments and hardware. This was as much for the benefit of the rest of the training, engineering, and flight operations world as for the astronauts themselves; it meant other organizations knew which astronaut to call to get an office position on a procedure or a hardware change. To keep those calls from becoming too much of a burden, train­ing managers were assigned to the crews to help organize their schedules. “Bob Kohler was our crew training manager, an energetic but calm man able to steer us through the months of competition for our precious time,” Kerwin recalls. “I think we burned him out; he left NASA after Skylab and became an optometrist.”

The activity planning guide Kohler put together for the first crew for April and May of 1973 was typically busy. “We’d already done our multiple-day on-orbit simulations and were now concentrating on launch, rendezvous, and entry integrated sims (‘integrated’ meant the simulations included full Mission Control participation),” Kerwin said. “Saturdays were full, but we had most Sundays for family, unless we were traveling. There were more and more medical entries: exams, blood drawing, and final preflight data runs of the various experiments. Saturday, April 24 was listed as ‘Crew Por­trait Day—flight gear?—check with Conrad.’ It was all a blur. Sometimes things happened on schedule, but often not. I have a handwritten sheet of paper from March of 1972 that says the following:

3/6/72: Joe—miff Interface Test has slipped to Saturday, per Dick Truly. Bob Kohler.

Joe— it slipped back to Friday—keep checking! Richard.

Friday it is—as of 3/7/72. Kohler.

Would you believe Monday the 13th—Kohler—3/8.

3/10: cancelled until further notice. ”

After the first crew launched, Kohler put together the sl-2 Crew Train­ing Summary, showing exactly how many hours each of the three astro­nauts had actually spent in trainers and simulators during the two years of “official” crew training. Conrad had the least, at 2,151 hours, but he’d been on three spaceflights already. Kerwin was next with 2,437 hours, and Weitz had the most at 2,506 hours. Those times don’t count the many hours they spent flying, in meetings, reviewing the checklists, and trying to memo­rize all the switch locations and functions—the “homework” that had to be done to prepare for the simulator work. (“This would explain why none of your children recognized you after the flight,” joked Kerwin’s daughter, Sharon.)

Another of the activities on the busy astronauts’ schedule was space­craft checkout. “In early June of 1972, we strapped into our T-38s and hus­tled to St. Louis, to the McDonnell Aircraft plant, where the flight Dock­ing Adapter had been mated to the flight Airlock Module and was waiting for final checkout [McDonnell had merged with Douglas Aircraft in April of 1967],” Kerwin said. “The next morning, June 6, we briefed, put on our bunny suits and slippers, and entered the flight unit. Outside was a large team of McDonnell engineers led by the test director. Every switch throw

was in the test plan, and its effects would be watched and measured.

“The test was scheduled for twelve hours, but we accomplished it in half that time, flying from panel to panel and reporting over the intercom, ‘Rog­er. . . in work. . . complete.’ The spacecraft was clean, beautiful, and com­pletely functional. We felt that industry had finally learned how to build them and test them, and we partied that night at the motel with our con­tractor teammates.”

There seemed to be no limit to the tasks requiring the crews’ attention during the period of the station’s development and their training, every­thing from the overseeing the functional requirements for the triangle shoes to fighting with the Public Affairs Office over television shows on Skylab. (The astronauts weren’t opposed to doing them, but they’d had no training and there was no time in the flight plan for them.) And of course an astro­naut wouldn’t want to find himself heading out for a spacewalk if, while on the ground, he hadn’t customized the fit and comfort of his ucta—the urine collection and transfer assembly worn under the spacesuits. One could change the location of the Velcro, add a snap, wear a suitably perforated ath­letic supporter, and wear the ucta over or under the liquid cooling garment. Then there was the task of designing, and redesigning, the crew clothing to be worn in-flight.

“Testing and modifying the clothing was fun, although it dragged out a bit because clothing was a matter of both requirements and personal tastes,” Kerwin said. The following excerpts from a series of internal memos exem­plify this:

To: cb/All Skylab Astronauts From: cb /Alan Bean Subject: Skylab Clothing

a) Would it not be better to remove the knitted cuffs completely from our Skylab flight suits, since it looks like the temperature will be warmer most of the time than we would desire? [That was a prescient guess by AH]

b) There seems to be a difference in philosophy as to what constitutes proper uni­form for the “cool Beta Angle" and the “warm Beta Angle" on the Skylab mis­sion. [Beta Angle was essentially the angle between Skylab s orbit and the sun; it varied with the season and determined how much ofeach orbit was spent in sun­light.] For the warm case our only option is to take off some of the cool weather garments. Taking off the jacket is all right because we end up with a cool polo shirt. However, if we wanted to take offour pants, we end up standing around in our underwear. I don’t personally have anything against running around in my underwear, I do it all the time at home; but it would be better to at least have something more military in appearance planned for the warm case.. ..

To: cb/Skylab Astronauts

From: cb /Joe Kerwin

Subject: Al Bean’s Clothing Memo

a) The knit cuffs are there to retain the sleeves and trouser legs under zero-g. They can be snipped offby a crewman at his option. Recommend they be retained, as a better military appearance will result.

b) The “warm weather uniform" question was a good one. . . . Unfortunately, all the clothing will be up there before we know the answer. We looked, briefly, at bermuda shorts last fall, and nobody thought they were needed…. Alterna­tively, we can ask Crew Systems Division to engineer the longiesfor easy cutting off. Pete, you decide. (Incidentally, AdmiralZumwaltsays we can wear frayed pants in the wardroom now.)

c) Lip buttons will be providedfor complainers.

To: cb /Skylab Astronauts From: GeraldP. Carr

Subject: Skylab Clothing (Another shot across Medinaut’s bow) (that’s Kerwin)

a) Agree that the cuffs make the suit a bit too warm, but Joe’s answer is fine. We can snip them out if they get too warm.

b) . . . I have no objection to making my own Bermuda shorts out of a “cold case" set ofclothing

c) Disagree with Joe’s proposal for lip buttons. Zippers or Velcro are much more appropriate in the space biz.

Eventually, the Skylab astronauts all agreed on a clothing set. It con­tained cotton T-shirts for warm-weather wear and provisioned a change of underwear every two days and of outerwear once a week. The outerwear was made of a fireproof cloth, polybenzemidazole (called pbi; “We couldn’t pronounce it either,” quipped Kerwin) that only came in a golden brown. But it was comfortable. Rejected were the proposed small-bore fiberglass (called “beta cloth”) items, which itched.

On the lighter side, the crewmembers all got to pick the music for tape cas­settes they would carry with them on the mission. Each would have a small tape player, with Velcro on it to attach to a handy wall so that they could accompany their various experiment chores with music. For example, on the first crew, Conrad was a huge fan of country; his cassettes featured the Statler Brothers, Lynn Anderson, and other favorites. Kerwin liked classical; some of his favorites were Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand. He also snuck in a few folk songs recorded by his brother, Ed. Weitz’s selections proved popular with his entire crew— Richard Rodgers’s Victory at Sea, the Mills Brothers, Glen Campbell, Andy Williams, and the Ink Spots. Selecting the music was one of those last-minute chores like completing the guest list for our launch,” Kerwin said. “It felt good; we were getting close.”

Of course, not all Skylab training took place in the relatively comfort­able confines of NASA centers and contractor locations. For example, as with Apollo, the Skylab crews went through training to prepare them for the contingency of an “off-nominal” reentry that could return them to Earth far from where they were supposed to land. “Although they never had to be used, the water egress, and desert and jungle training were lots of fun,” sec­ond crew science pilot Owen Garriott said.

The jungle training took place in Panama under the guidance of local Choco Indians. “They were expert trackers and, of course, knew the jungle as their own backyard,” Garriott said. “We were given an hour or so head start and told to evade capture and meet some twenty-four to forty-eight hours later on the beach some distance away.

“We all took off in groups of three—I was with Tony England and Karl Henize—at a fast trot, trying to get as far away as possible before darkness descended. The Chocos would set out after us and try to ‘grab our hats,’ equivalent to a capture.

“We succeeded almost too well,” Garriott said. “We didn’t get ‘captured,’ but we ran for so long that it got dark before we had properly made camp. We hurriedly gathered sticks to try to make a lean-to to be covered with a nylon sheet and to make a fire from small pieces of wood, but the every-day rains made a fire impossible. But darkness and more showers arrived before we had anything like a dry shelter. That night has been long remembered as the most uncomfortable, mosquito-plagued night of my life.

“Of course, we had to have a graduation celebration (after we were all finally recovered) on the banks of the Panama Canal,” he continued. “Scien­tist astronaut Story Musgrave, always the adventuresome explorer, thought it would be fun to swim across the canal—in pitch darkness. So he stripped down and paddled off into the night, with numerous warnings about avoid­ing the alligators. In an hour or so, back he came, none the worse for any animal encounters.”

Ed Gibson also had a memorable experience during his survival train­ing. Despite all the challenges of living in the wild, Gibson decided the big­gest threat to his own survival was one of his own teammates. “People ask me what is the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done in the space program,” Gibson said. “Well, we went on a jungle survival trip, and I was out in the forest with Jack [Lousma] and Vance Brand. And after a couple of days or so, Jack was getting pretty hungry, and he kind of came up and started feel­ing my flesh. And I realized my objective for that whole time was to find enough food to feed him so I wouldn’t get eaten.”

High Performance

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:

Bean, md-i:

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.

Bean, MD-3:

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.

Garriott, MD-3:

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.”

Garriott, MD-4:

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.

Bean, MD-4:

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.

Garriott, md-8:

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

High Performance

33. Garriott exercises with the cycle ergometer.

the sun. We worked these experiments early, since we still had no film in the solar cameras.”

Bean, MD-9:

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,

High Performance

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.”

Bean, md-io:

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

High Performance

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.

Bean, md-ii:

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.

Garriott, MD-14:

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.”

Bean MD-14:

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.

Garriott, MD-15-16:

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.”

Bean, MD-i6:

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.”

Bean, MD-17:

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.

Garriott, MD-i8:

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

High Performance

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.

Bean, MD-19:

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.

Bean, MD-22:

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.”

Bean, MD-26:

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 :

Bean, MD-24:

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.”

Bean, MD-28:

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.”

Bean, MD-29:

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.”

Garriott, MD-30:

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.”

Bean, MD-30:

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.”

Bean, MD-38:

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.

Garriott, MD-39:

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.”

Bean, MD-39:

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!”

Bean, MD-40:

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.

Garriott, MD-40:

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.”

High Performance

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.”

Bean, MD-41:

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.

Garriott, MD-41:

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.”

Bean, MD-46:

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.

Garriott, MD-47:

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!

Bean, MD-51:

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.

Garriott, MD-52:

“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.

Bean, MD-53:

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.

Garriott, MD-55:

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.

Garriott, MD-56:

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

High Performance

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.”


Just as it took a team of thousands working together to make the Skylab program, telling its tale would not have been possible without the gener­ous contributions of many people. While the three of us struggled over the past several years to put everything in place and to make this story of Sky – lab both accurate and interesting for all readers, we have found that abso­lutely key elements required the personal contribution of additional mem­bers of the Skylab team.

Alan Bean’s substantial contribution to this book, for which we are im­mensely grateful, was discussed in the preface.

And then there is Ed Gibson, the scientist pilot of mission three, who makes clear the major contributions made on the longest Skylab mission of all and who sets the record straight about some of the common misconcep­tions surrounding the mission. He is the principal author of most of chap­ter io, “Sprinting a Marathon.” He attacked the challenge passionately and went above and beyond our expectations.

Gibson’s insight can also be found elsewhere in the book, particularly in his in-depth explanation of solar astronomy on Skylab. Gibson’s knowl­edge of our sun, and observation thereof, is vast, and his expertise made for an invaluable addition to the book.

In addition, we would like to give particular thanks to the following people.

Vance Brand and Bo Bobko, who shared not only their personal ex­periences but also a wealth of resources they had saved over the years.

Chris Kraft, who provided us with unpublished Skylab material he had written for his memoir, Flight: My Life in Mission Control.

Lee Belew, Jerry Carr, Phil Chapman, Bob Crippen, George Hardy,

Charlie Harlan, Hans Kennel, Jack Kinzier, Don Lind, Gratia Lousma, Jack Lousma, Bob MacQueen, Joe McMann, George Mueller, Bill Pogue, Chuck Ross, Bob Schwinghamer, Phil Shaf­fer, Ed Smylie, Jim Splawn, J. R. Thompson, Bill Thornton, Stan Thornton, Jack Waite, and Paul Weitz, all of whom shared their experiences with us, either during in-person interviews or through written correspondence. (Some of these also extended and enhanced material from their interviews with the jsc Oral History Project for this book, particularly in chapter io.)

Colin Burgess, our series editor, who got us started on this adventure and shepherded us along the way. Colin also contributed the story about Stan Thornton’s experience finding a piece of Sky – lab; and he occasionally provided feedback on our manuscript when not too busy working on countless of his own.

The jsc Oral History Project, an incredible historical archive. Inter­views from the project served as the foundation for the crew bios and the Skylab III chapter of this book and added additional in­sight to other areas.

Francis French, Gregg Maryniak, and Rob Pearlman, who looked through our in-progress manuscript and provided expert feedback.

Gary Dunham, who supported us graciously during this process.

Homer Hickam, who captured what we were trying to do in his ex­cellent foreword.

Richard Allen of Space Center Houston, for letting us in at odd hours to review the Skylab trainer.

Genie Bopp; Sandra Brooks; Susanna Brooks; Eve Garriott; Bill and Leah Hitt; Lain Hughes; and Lee and Sharon Kerwin, who were kind enough to read through our developing book and point us in the right direction.

Many, many others who answered questions for us as they arose.

David Hitt would also like to thank his father, Bill Hitt, for setting his first­born in front of the television on 12 April 1981 and fanning the flames ever since; Jim Abbott, for being the best mentor a young reporter could have hoped for; Nicole, for going along on an amazing experience; Jesse Hol­land; and last, but certainly not least, the good Drs. Garriott and Kerwin, for giving me the greatest adventure of my life by letting me share in one of the greatest of theirs, for being my patrons through Olympus, and, most of all, for their friendship.

Joe Kerwin would like to thank his wife, Lee; his daughters, Sharon, Joanna, and Kristina, for letting him be a part-time dad before the flight and for providing his main motive for coming back to Earth; and his grandsons, Christopher, Joel, Anthony, Brendan, and Joshua, for giving him a reason to help write this book—that they might be encouraged to go on adven­tures of their own.

Owen Garriott is most appreciative of the support provided by his family and children in his life both as a “flyer” and as a writer as he prepared this book. It is not an insignificant source of personal satisfaction to find that some of his enthusiasm for space adventure has carried over to his children.