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NASA Skylab Investigation


Since the human being reseeded in the international space station, there have been numerous researches involving microgravity of the universe. This kind of research could not be successful without the assistance of American first space station, that is, the Skylab. This paper will widely focus on the investigation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Skylab. It will attempt to focus on NASA investigation on the initial flight anomalies of the Skylab which occurred on May 14, 1973. The research will base on; how it happened, why it happened and how to reduce any form of possible failures. Additionally, the paper will uncover the individuals responsible for the fault and assess whether the situation was handled correctly or incorrectly.


According to Feldman (26), Skylab was launched into the world orbit by a Saturn versus rocket on the 14th may 1973. On this day an anomaly occurred which lead to complete loss in the meteoroid shield that surrounded the orbital workshop. It is because of this anomaly that various crews visited Skylab where their come back was through an Apollo aircraft. The main objective of the Skylab was to prove that human beings could also live and survive in the outer space for long durations of time. It is evident that Skylab has continued to serve as the greatest microgravity lab, solar observatory of its time, medical lab, an earth investigation object and most essentially a home far a way from home.

Since the implementation of the Skylab investigation, it is evident that there have been creations of new technologies, for instance special showers, exercising equipments, kitchen facilities and sleeping bags which were designed so as to fit in microgravity. The success geared to this experiment was based on the ability of different crews overcoming challenges during their stay in space (Shayler, 224).

What is the NASA Skylab?

Zimmerman (78) describes Skylab as the first United State space station and the second kind of space station to have been visited by human beings. The NASA which stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the only organization that has been involved in the launching of this space station. The one hundred ton space station existed in the world orbit from the year 1973 to 1979 and it had been visited by three different crews in these two years.

NASA through Skylab has greatly focused on ensuring that it tries to understand the earth through clearly observing the systems revolving within it. Through its constant explorations on the solar system it has been able to advance on new robotics missions that have seen the growth of new horizon in the class of researches involving the earth (NASA, 2).

Based on the background associated to this space station, its origin has been difficult to point out due to the fact that there have been several proposals that the NASA had floated before engaging in the launching of Skylab (NASA, 3).  There have been numerous studies carried out by the NASA organization so as to find the ultimate platform that will be effective for the Skylab.

What was the possible cause and result of the flight anomaly?

Investigation indicated that the possible cause of anomaly in the flight was due to the fact that the meteoroid shield broke up because the aerodynamic loads had not been accounted for in the design of the flight. The ties that normally secure the solar system within the workshop were broken down as a result of the breaking up of the meteoroid shield.  From this whole effect there was significant loss of the solar system that only took a matter of ten minutes (Wade, 425).

It is very evident that lack of professionalism widely contributed to the anomalies within the flight. This is based on the fact that there was no communication among the structural design, manufacturing personnel and aerodynamics. This lack of communication greatly contributed to deficiencies in the designs of the flight meteoroid shield.  Failure of communication toward the flight project highly attributed to the absence of sound techniques over a certain period of time.

Of the various stated reasons for the failures of the meteoroid, the most significant identified reason was that of interior pressurization of the flight auxiliary tunnel which caused meteoroid to shield away form the casing of the workshop.  The pressurization within the supplementary tunnel was observed due to the existence of various openings in the astern part of the tunnel (Skylab space station, 210).

What are the possible applicable corrective actions towards this flight anomaly?

It is important that if back up OWS or analogous spacecraft is to be flown in the near future corrective action should be undertaken. For instance, it could be helpful if the meteoroid was done away with and significantly replaced through the coating of the OWS (orbital workshop) to ensure that there is effective thermal control. Additionally, it is important that protection remain a fundamental factor which will ensure that the board remains attracted to the concept of fixing a non deployable shield (Zimmerman, 80).

Hoffman (215) observes that in order to ensure that there is reduction of separation failures such as those of second separation stage, it is important that there are shaped linearly. It is with accordance that structural systems are associated to other mechanisms, components or equipments so as to ensure that a piece of structure does not solely depend on the structure organization. Complex and multi –disciplinary systems should have a designate project engineer whose mandate  will be to ensure that all aspects involving analysis, fabrication, assembly, design and test of the flight are properly observed and undertaken.

Corrective measures so as to avoid future predicaments as the ones in flight anomaly are first to ensure that there should be effective management systems to be used within the Skylab workshop.  These overall management systems should be fully operational within the workshop so as to avoid conflicts or inconsistencies as observed in the flight anomaly (Kraft, 127). It is very important that there is significant cross fertilizations between broadened experienced engineers so as to assist in the analysis on the initial flight anomalies.

How can we reduce or do away with possibility of failure?

As stated in the program objectives that is; to conduct effective research on certain earth resources. It is very evident that effective research is carried out so as to understand what can be done so as to avoid anomalies which often result due to lack of knowledge by the concerned engineers (Suszkowski, 230). It is essential that one effectively studies the effects which are normally associated to weightlessness on living objects such as human beings. It is very evident that Skylab tries to utilize man as an engineer and as individual who is concerned in the research. By so doing it ensures that it provides an equal opportunity or chance in the assessment of one potential capability for prospect space missions (Thomas, 12).

Cross fertilization between the different bridges of engineers is important since there is exchange of ideas which are likely to reduce possible failures. Ideas can range from those involving the design of the flight, operations within the flight and analysis that will widely study the flight (Johnson, 25). Another crucial step is that of ensuring all involved engineers are familiarized with the actual hardware especially the one that will ensure that there is productive usage of the flight data. It is good when one is able to establish a chief engineer who will be able to spend ample time in the restrained integration of all the elements described within the flight system.

Summary and recommendation

From the discussion above it can be strongly affirmed that the anomalies within the flight that occurred on 14th may 1973 was widely attributed by the negligence of several individuals. Before embarking on such an important mission it is very important that one assembles all the required elements that will ensure that the whole project becomes a success. Success is achieved through ensuring concerned individuals are able to accept to be accountable should there be any problem that might a raise (Lindsay, 30).

As part of recommendation, it is very essential that a simple and straight forward solution toward these problems is designed so as to minimize incidences like this repeating in the near future. For instance, it is noted that meteoroid flux should be lower as compared to the ones indicated in the calculations. It is very essential that new analyses are incorporated so that maximum protection is achieved. It is good that there is an establishment of a bond between additional metal layer and the OWS wall so as to prevent handling the problem as that involving statistics. This can be achieved through ensuring that the entire covering of OWS is not covered (Kraft, 126).

It is essential researchers should further their studies on the effects normally associated with weightlessness of living objects such as human beings. It is very evident that Skylab tries to utilize man as an engineer and as individual who is concerned in the research. By so doing it ensures that it provides an equal opportunity or chance in the assessment of one potential capability for prospect space missions.

Works Cited

Feldman, Heather. Skylab: The First American Space Station. New York: PowerKids Press, 2003. Pp 24-27.

Shayler, David. Skylab: America's space station. London: Springer, 2001. Pp 221-226.

Zimmerman, Robert. Leaving earth: space stations, rival superpowers, and the quest for interplanetary travel. Washington, DC: Henry, 2003. Pp74-80.

NASA. NASA Investigation Board Report on the Initial Flight Anomalies of Skylab 1 on May 14, 1973. 18 Nov. 2010. Web. 6 Aug. 2003

 Thomas, Frieling. "Skylab B: Unflown Missions, Lost Opportunities". Quest, 5.4 (1996): 12.

Wade, Mark. "World Manned Spacecraft Characteristics." Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 34.1 (1981): 425.

Lindsay, Hamish. Tracking Apollo to the moon.  New York: Springer, 2001.  Pp 21-43.

Skylab space station. 18 Nov. 2010. Web. 2010

Suszkowski, Daniel. “Skylab Investigation.” ICES Journal of the Marine, 7. 3 (1998): 205-213.

Hoffman, Rudolf. “Visual Light Flash Observations on Skylab 4”. ICES Journal of the Marine, 32. 5 (2006): 212-234.

Johnson, Lyndon. Skylab EREP investigations summary (NASA SP). New York: Springer, 2001. Pp 21-33.

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