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Skylab - A Guidebook

Skylab - A Guidebook

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Published by Bob Andrepont
NASA pre-flight guidebook to the Skylab program.
NASA pre-flight guidebook to the Skylab program.

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on Nov 28, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Skylab, combining the unique features of an orbiting spacecraft with
the convenience of a roomy, well-equipped laboratory, offers an unprece-

dented opportunity for research in a number of scientific and technical areas.
Almost 300 separate investigations, taking advantage of this opportunity, will
advance knowledge in four major areas: science, Earth observations, zero-
gravity technology, and the reaction of man to the environment of space.
In the space science area, major emphasis rests on solar observations, most
of them with the instruments mounted on the Apollo Telescope Mount. The
ATM will observe the Sun with eight instrments: the white light corono-

graph, two X-ray telescopes, three ultraviolet spectrographs, and two helio-
graphs imaging the Sun in the red light of the H-alpha line. (The H-alpha
line is the red line in the Balmer series of the hydrogen spectrum, 656.28

nanometers or 6562.8 Angstrom units).1 An ultraviolet and X-ray spec-

trograph will observe the Sun through a scientific airlock in the wall of the

Orbital Workshop.

Several instruments will record the ultraviolet and X-ray emissions of

stellar objects within our Milky Way galaxy.
Cosmic ray particles will be recorded, and the minute impact craters of
micrometeoroids on polished metal plates will be studied after the exposed

plates have been brought back to Earth.
Medical doctors and biophysicists will utilize the state of weightlessness on

board Skylab for scientific investigations. The effects of complete absence of
gravitational forces upon metabolism, growth, and division of cells, upon
tissues and organs, upon development cycles, and upon the wake-and-sleep

rhythms of animals, will be studied in several experiments.
Observations of the Earth's surface from orbit, one of the major objectives

of Sky!ab, will be canA'ed out by the EREP assembly (Earth Resources
Experiment Package). It contains six different instruments which will view
targets on Earth in visible light, in infrared, and with microwaves. These
observations will cover large areas of the Earth in a very short time under
identical lighting conditions; they will provide information on such large-
scale variables as cloud cover, snow and water conditions, ocean state, crop
conditions, vegetation growth, development of urban and rural areas, water
pollution, land use, and other factors which are of vital importance in the
interaction of man with his environment.

The effects of gravity, ever-present on Earth, are not observable in the
environment of an orbiting spacecraft. Processes such as convection, mixing
of dissimilar components, diffusion in fluids, heat conduction, flow patterns,

( 1 nanometer= 1 nm= 10-Dmeter_ I0 Angstrom units)



liquid surface forming, crystal growing, casting of composites, welding, and
flame propagation, which are influenced by gravitational forces on Earth,

will be different in space. Some of the familiar methods of manufacturing
and assembly will require new techniques under space conditions; on the

other hand, some processes which cannot he achieved on Earth, such as the
aUoying of metals with greatly different densities or the formation of certain
glasses, may become easy under weightlessness. A series of experiments to
study such processes will be carried out on Skylab.

For the firt time in the space program, Skylab will offer an opportunity to

systematically study the problems of life and work of man under prolonged
exposure to space conditions. Numerous experiments were prepared to ob-
serve physical and mental functions of the astronauts, environmental con-

ditions inside and outside the spacecraft, habitability features of the Work-
shop, the utility of tools, interfaces between astronauts and instrumentation,
and the functioning of auxiliary systems. Many of these experiments are
_iomedical in character; their results will help us understand how man will

adapt to the unique environment of a laboratory in space and how future
space stations and deep space probes should be equipped to assure a com-
fortable and productive existence for astronauts. At the same time, experi-
ments in this program will teach us how to build and equip spacecraft of
the future in such a way that they offer optimum technical conditions for

scientific research, for Earth observations, for zero-gravity technology, and
as a habitat for the astronauts.

Experiments on Skylab will be described in four groups according to their
objectives: science, Earth observations, life sciences, and space technology.
Sections on the Skylab student project and on the postflight evaluation of
Skylab data will follow.

The numbers listed with each experiment are the official designations for
the Experiment Program; see also Chapter VIII, Listing of Skylab



As an observing station in orbit, Skylab has attracted the interest of
astronomers, physicists and biologists from the time it was first conceived. In
fact, a number of crucial observations in these three areas of scientific endea-
vor are planned, with the expectation that results will greatly advance our
knowledge and will lay the groundwork for further research. The most

prominent package of scientific instruments on Skylab, the Apollo Telescope
Mount, will permit a study of the Sun. Some observations are planned of
stellar objects, and some studies will be made of phenomena near the Earth
which are difficult or impossible to observe from the ground. Biological
studies on the effects of weightlessness will be described under Life Science
Projects, Chapter V-3.

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