Eight NASA astronauts who lived and worked on Skylab,
America’s first space station, will celebrate the 30th
anniversary of the historic laboratory on Nov. 10, during the
annual Von Braun Forum in Huntsville, Ala.

Eight of the nine NASA astronauts, who lived on Skylab for
periods as long as 84 days, will lead panel discussions. The
eight astronauts, Owen Garriott, Joe Kerwin, Ed Gibson, Paul
Weitz, Jerry Carr, Jack Lousma, Al Bean and Bill Pogue, will
discuss past and present achievements in human spaceflight.
Pete Conrad, the ninth Skylab crewman, died in 1999.

The public event is at 3 p.m. EST at the Chan Auditorium at
the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and admission is

Skylab, a two-level workshop was made from a converted Saturn
S-IVB stage. It was launched May 14, 1973 atop a Saturn V
rocket, the same vehicle that launched the Apollo moon
missions. Weighing nearly 100 tons and having the same volume
as a small, three-bedroom house, Skylab orbited Earth for more
than 171 days.

Three different, three-person crews staffed Skylab and
performed hundreds of solar and microgravity experiments.
While Skylab remains a bright page in NASA history, its
success was not without problems. About 63 seconds after
launch, a meteoroid protection shield ripped and tore off a
solar array panel, jamming and preventing the deployment of
another. As a result, Skylab was subject to serious
overheating. The first crew launch, originally scheduled the
day after Skylab’s, was delayed 10 days, while teams at NASA’s
Marshall Space Flight Center worked around the clock to devise
solutions to the problem.

Following ground team instructions, the first Skylab crew,
Conrad, Weitz, and Kerwin, successfully erected a reflective
parasol sunshade and cut a strap to open the remaining solar
array. The mission continued until the crew returned to Earth
on June 22, 1973, clearing the way for the two follow-on

Skylab proved humans could live and work in space for long
periods without artificial gravity, and experiments showed
microgravity was not only beneficial but also necessary for
some research. Skylab was a major stepping-stone toward
developing the International Space Station, a 16-nation
orbiting laboratory under construction in space since 1998.

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