Author Topic: Could a Guest-Astronaut Program have Prolonged Skylab?  (Read 5269 times)

Offline Proponent

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The Soviet Union flew "guest astronauts" from communist countries on its Salyut stations.  Did NASA ever pitch a similar idea for Apollo Applications?  Is there any chance such a thing could have resulted in a few more post-Apollo missions to LEO?

Offline Danderman

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Re: Could a Guest-Astronaut Program have Prolonged Skylab?
« Reply #1 on: 01/28/2010 06:58 AM »
I don't know whether this was proposed back in the day, but it actually may have worked, if proposed early enough, and if Skylab could have really handled 2 Apollo spacecraft at the same time.  The idea of flying Brits or Canadians for short missions may have provoked a couple of extra missions.

Offline ChrisSpaceCH

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Re: Could a Guest-Astronaut Program have Prolonged Skylab?
« Reply #2 on: 01/28/2010 07:20 AM »
I don't know whether this was proposed back in the day, but it actually may have worked, if proposed early enough, and if Skylab could have really handled 2 Apollo spacecraft at the same time.  The idea of flying Brits or Canadians for short missions may have provoked a couple of extra missions.


Where would those required extra Apollo spacecraft have come from? And upon what launcher would they have gone up? It was my belief that Saturn (V and IB) production had ceased long before the Skylab missions and that Skylab was essentially just "using up the leftovers". Or am I wrong?

Online notsorandom

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Re: Could a Guest-Astronaut Program have Prolonged Skylab?
« Reply #3 on: 01/28/2010 07:34 AM »
Not only were there no Saturn 1Bs and Apollo CSMs left but there were only enough supplies aboard Skylab for one more long duration mission. Skylab was never designed to be resupplied. If the station had managed to stay in orbit there were plans to refit it using a the abilities of the Space Shuttle. That would have taken a number of flights and been quite an undertaking.

The Apollo CSM that flew on the Apollo Soyuz Test Project was originally scheduled to make one last Skylab flight but got reassigned. I remember watching an interview with Gene Kranz where his expressed some unhappiness that they flew the ASTP instead of one last Skylab mission.


Offline spinkao

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Re: Could a Guest-Astronaut Program have Prolonged Skylab?
« Reply #4 on: 01/28/2010 08:05 AM »
Where would those required extra Apollo spacecraft have come from? And upon what launcher would they have gone up? It was my belief that Saturn (V and IB) production had ceased long before the Skylab missions and that Skylab was essentially just "using up the leftovers". Or am I wrong?

You are right, the production ceased even before the first Moon landing. But there were at least two more flight-ready Apollo spacecraft + Saturn IBs left when the Skylab project ended. One (originally planned for one more Skylab mission) flew the ASTP in 1975, the other flight-ready article (spacecraft + booster) was destined to be the LON spacecraft for this last mission and is currently somewhere around the museums (the spacecraft is at Kennedy Space Center, the booster is somewhere too but I don't remember where). These are at least two I am aware of.

Follow this link:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellation/orion/umbilical_inspection_prt.htm

to see at least one complete and unflown Apollo spacecraft.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2010 08:09 AM by spinkao »
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. - Arthur Charles Clarke

Offline Proponent

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Re: Could a Guest-Astronaut Program have Prolonged Skylab?
« Reply #5 on: 01/28/2010 08:37 AM »
How much hardware could have been available depends on the time frame in which the guest-astronaut program might have been suggested.  What got me thinking about it was the video posted by Jim recently in which Bob Seamans, then secretary of the Air Force, describes briefing Nixon and Kissinger on MOL and learning the next day that Nixon had decided to cancel MOL.  That must have been June 1969.  Now imagine a guest-astronaut pitch to Nixon and Kissinger about the same time pointing out the foreign-policy benefits.  Much of the Apollo hardware was still in production than, and what wasn't could not have been long out of production.

As late as 1971 there were suggestions of using LVs other than the Saturn IB for getting to Skylab: see the attachment.

Offline Skylon

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Re: Could a Guest-Astronaut Program have Prolonged Skylab?
« Reply #6 on: 01/28/2010 07:37 PM »
As was noted, the main available CSM remaining (CSM 119) was the Skylab Rescue CSM/ASTP backup and an Saturn IB booster. I don't think there was ever any solid plan for a fourth Skylab mission. Does anyone know how "flight ready" CSM 115A, which now is part of the JSC's Saturn V display was?

Crew wise, Deke Slayton stated that when he assigned the Skylab crews they were looking at "three missions, and a theoretical fourth." That theoretical fourth never was sent up due to lack of funds. No crew was assigned, but the Brand, Lind and Lenoir SL 3 and 4 backup crew is the pick people tend to float around as the most likely to fly it (though the SL 2 backup crew of Schweickart, McCandless and Musgrave could have been just as likely).

ASTP made it because of the political angle of detente. I'm not sure, even if ASTP hadn't flown, a fourth Skylab mission would have been sent aloft.

Offline Jim

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Re: Could a Guest-Astronaut Program have Prolonged Skylab?
« Reply #7 on: 01/28/2010 08:09 PM »
There was talk of a second Skylab using the one in the NASM and the ASTP and backup CSM/Saturn IB

Offline Jim

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Re: Could a Guest-Astronaut Program have Prolonged Skylab?
« Reply #8 on: 01/28/2010 08:11 PM »
That must have been June 1969.  Now imagine a guest-astronaut pitch to Nixon and Kissinger about the same time pointing out the foreign-policy benefits.  Much of the Apollo hardware was still in production than, and what wasn't could not have been long out of production.


Skylab wasn't even really defined at that time to make such decisions.  Anyways, the production was stopped because there was no budget .

Offline MBK004

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Re: Could a Guest-Astronaut Program have Prolonged Skylab?
« Reply #9 on: 01/28/2010 11:13 PM »
Does anyone know how "flight ready" CSM 115A, which now is part of the JSC's Saturn V display was?

I remember reading somewhere that that CSM was for Apollo 15 when it was still planned as a H mission instead of a J mission.

Offline Jorge

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Re: Could a Guest-Astronaut Program have Prolonged Skylab?
« Reply #10 on: 01/29/2010 01:53 AM »
Does anyone know how "flight ready" CSM 115A, which now is part of the JSC's Saturn V display was?

I remember reading somewhere that that CSM was for Apollo 15 when it was still planned as a H mission instead of a J mission.

That doesn't make sense. The CSMs that flew the actual J missions were numbered 112-114. If the JSC CSM was originally slated for an H mission it would have had a lower number.

I think you're confusing it with the original Apollo 15 LM when it was planned as an H mission, which was LM-9 and is now at KSC. The LMs that flew on the actual J missions were LM-10 through 12.
JRF

Offline missleman01

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Re: Could a Guest-Astronaut Program have Prolonged Skylab?
« Reply #11 on: 01/29/2010 07:22 PM »
I found this while trying to find some other info on Apollo Soyuz, caught my eye and I remembered it when seeing the question here.

This is from "The Parnership" NASA SP-4209, thie government narrative on the Apollo Soyuz Test Project. This section is entiled estimating the cost and discusses the options considered for prepping a CSM for ASTP and may give some insight into 115A:

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4209/ch6-6.htm

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"  MSC's studies of the costs of an International Rendezvous and Docking Mission and the best way to contract for its equipment produced an avalanche of paper. Data indicated that such a mission, using CSM 115 and 115A, would cost in excess of $267 million and could run nearly as high as $280 million for three docking modules (one test, one backup, and one flight), seven docking mechanisms (two flight, four test, and one spare), and experiment packages. These investigations convinced the Center management that experience would produce economy in this case, so North American Rockwell should develop and fabricate the docking module and docking mechanism. As the builder of the CSM, Rockwell would be able to work with the command module docking module interface with minimum difficulty. In addition, they had the Apollo manufacturing equipment and the necessary labor skills, if the job were begun before the company started laying off their experienced employees. However, the ultimate decisions about how much money NASA could afford to allocate to the mission and who the contractor would be had to come from Headquarters.35

Dale Myers met with the top management** on 24 February to discuss the cost of the proposed docking mission, and they reached three key decisions. First, the planning effort was to be oriented toward a program that would include a demonstration flight, but the total program effort was not to exceed $250 million. Based upon the data already generated, this ceiling precluded the use of either CSM 115 or 115A. Second, Houston would have to base its planning on the use of CSM 111 as the likely flight test vehicle and CSM 119 as a potential backup vehicle (assuming that it was not flown during Skylab). The budget included the necessary modifications for CSM 119 to make it flight ready, but it did not cover the expense of an actual mission based on 119. The final decision made on 24 February concerned experiments. Since the 111 and 119 service modules did not have scientific instrument bays, the experiments would have to be much simpler than the earth resources survey originally proposed. Of the $250 million total, $10 million were allocated for developing experiments that could be housed in the command and docking modules. No more work on CSM 115 and 115A was contemplated.36  "
-------------------------


While no specifics are mentioned, it appears that for some reason the work North American Rockwell would have left on CSM 115 and 115A was prohibitive for Apollo Soyuz and it was decided that burning CSM 111 (which ended up flying ASTP) or 119 was more cost effective. This indicates some significant level of "incompleteness" for 115 and 115A.

It also mentions that CSMs 111 and 119 did not have J-Series SIM bays so they may not have been up to J-Series standard.

The rest of the document is here from the history group at nasa:

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4209/toc.htm
« Last Edit: 01/29/2010 07:31 PM by missleman01 »

Offline Skylon

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Re: Could a Guest-Astronaut Program have Prolonged Skylab?
« Reply #12 on: 01/29/2010 08:23 PM »
Does anyone know how "flight ready" CSM 115A, which now is part of the JSC's Saturn V display was?

I remember reading somewhere that that CSM was for Apollo 15 when it was still planned as a H mission instead of a J mission.

CSM 111 (which flew ASTP) was to be Apollo 15's before it was changed to a J mission.

And yeah, it does indeed look like CSM's 115 and 115A were indeed, left significantly unfinished.

Offline Archibald

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« Last Edit: 01/30/2010 08:05 AM by Archibald »
...you have been found guilty by the elders of the forum of a (imaginary) vendetta against Saint Elon - BLAAASPHEMER !

Offline Proponent

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Re: Could a Guest-Astronaut Program have Prolonged Skylab?
« Reply #14 on: 02/01/2010 06:40 AM »
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=13040.0

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=13040.0;attach=106506

Page 8 there's a brief mention of "guest astronauts".

Thanks!

Is there any technical reason that a second Skylab could not have been put into an orbit accessible to Soyuz?

Offline Jim

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Re: Could a Guest-Astronaut Program have Prolonged Skylab?
« Reply #15 on: 02/01/2010 01:50 PM »
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=13040.0

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=13040.0;attach=106506

Page 8 there's a brief mention of "guest astronauts".

Thanks!

Is there any technical reason that a second Skylab could not have been put into an orbit accessible to Soyuz?

yes, orbital decay.  Skylab didn't have reboost

Offline Danderman

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Re: Could a Guest-Astronaut Program have Prolonged Skylab?
« Reply #16 on: 02/01/2010 02:54 PM »
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=13040.0

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=13040.0;attach=106506

Page 8 there's a brief mention of "guest astronauts".

Thanks!

Is there any technical reason that a second Skylab could not have been put into an orbit accessible to Soyuz?

Its one thing to suggest that a couple of extra missions to Skylab could have been squeezed out, assuming the suggestion were made early enough. Its another to suggest that a second Skylab be flown. The latter is a non-starter, given the budget realities of the 1970s.

Tags: Skylab