Author Topic: Skylab A and B  (Read 4045 times)

Offline Dalhousie

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Skylab A and B
« on: 06/13/2021 08:18 am »
There was some talk of a 4th flight to Skylab A.  Was a possible crew ever announced?

Were crews ever announced for Skylab B?
Apologies in advance for any lack of civility - it's unintended

Offline MATTBLAK

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« Last Edit: 06/13/2021 09:05 am by MATTBLAK »
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Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: Skylab A and B
« Reply #2 on: 06/13/2021 09:00 am »
If the second, backup Skylab had ever been launched, the backup crews which would have included Russell Schweickart, Bob Crippen, Hank Hartsfield, Bill Thornton, Bo Bobko and Story Musgrave and perhaps a couple other Astros. After Apollo-Soyuz there were only 3 or 4 flyable, Block II Apollo CSM's left and only 2x full Saturn 1B's. There was a remaining Saturn 1 stage that could possibly have been upgraded to a pseudo-1B standard, but it's likely one of the remaining CSM's would have been flown instead on a Titan III or even one of the remaining Saturn Vs which could have carried an 'expansion module' for the Skylab B station that could have consisted of additional docking ports and be 'packed to the gunnels' with supplies and equipment for the station. This expansion module could have ridden behind the CSM in the adapter usually reserved for the Lunar Module. It would have been the same height as the LM but a smidgen wider.
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Offline AS_501

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Re: Skylab A and B
« Reply #3 on: 06/13/2021 08:45 pm »
Somewhere I read that NASA considered using the Apollo SM engine to reboost Skylab to a higher orbit for potential future missions.  But that idea was nixed fearing the Apollo Telescope Mount might come crashing down on the Apollo CSM because of the large jolt from the SM engine.  I think the Skylab 4 SM thrusters were used to give the station a slight boost before the undocking.
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Offline libra

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Re: Skylab A and B
« Reply #4 on: 06/14/2021 03:37 pm »
A sad truth about Skylab B is that it was first and foremost a twin backup of the A in case it fails (it nearly did).

Why sad ? because it trapped that space station into a catch 22 situation. Once Skylab A was in orbit and the crews had done the planned jobs and tasks, it was either

a) if you launch it, its crews will do exactly the same jobs and tasks as the first one, so what's the point ?

or

b) we can of course tweak it and fill it it with more experiments, but... show me the money.
- FY1974 was one of the lowest NASA budgets ever, truly rock bottom
- Shuttle development costs swallowed every few dollars available to NASA manned spaceflight, so why bother with "old stuff" like Skylab B ? its systems were mostly one-shot, one-year long life expectancy, and obsolete stuff from late 60's Apollo era.

Skylab was a peculiar breed of space station. Unlike the late Salyuts (after the 4) or Mir or ISS that followed it, it was a "one shot space station" build for barely a year in space, and three crews. A bit of an evolutionary dead end, orphan of AAP and a product of it.

And thus, to spoof Indiana Jones "it belongued in the NASM museum"...

(Tom Frieling masterpiece, attached)

Offline Proponent

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Re: Skylab A and B
« Reply #5 on: 06/14/2021 04:36 pm »
Somewhere I read that NASA considered using the Apollo SM engine to reboost Skylab to a higher orbit for potential future missions.

Skylab was re-boosted at least once by the the SM's RCS.  I believe it's been mentioned somewhere in this forum that the thrust of the SPS was more than could be safely transmitted to the station.  Whether the issue was the force exerted by the CSM on the Multiple Docking Adaptor (which would have been greater than that exerted on the a LM, because of the latter's lower mass) or another structural issue such as the ATM, I do not recall.

Offline Proponent

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Re: Skylab A and B
« Reply #6 on: 06/14/2021 04:44 pm »
There was a remaining Saturn 1 stage that could possibly have been upgraded to a pseudo-1B standard...

S-IB stages for SA-213 and -214 were actually built and delivered to MSFC: see Ed Kyle's Space Launch Report.

Quote
... it's likely one of the remaining CSM's would have been flown instead on a Titan III....

Adapting the CSM for flight on a Titan III variant would have been a sizeable project.  I doubt it would have been considered just for one or two launches.

Offline libra

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Re: Skylab A and B
« Reply #7 on: 06/14/2021 05:11 pm »
Somewhere I read that NASA considered using the Apollo SM engine to reboost Skylab to a higher orbit for potential future missions.

Skylab was re-boosted at least once by the the SM's RCS.  I believe it's been mentioned somewhere in this forum that the thrust of the SPS was more than could be safely transmitted to the station.  Whether the issue was the force exerted by the CSM on the Multiple Docking Adaptor (which would have been greater than that exerted on the a LM, because of the latter's lower mass) or another structural issue such as the ATM, I do not recall.

The departing crew reboosted it using the RCS when leaving in February 1974 - by a handful of km.

Offline Steve G

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Re: Skylab A and B
« Reply #8 on: 06/14/2021 11:16 pm »
There were all kinds of studies about using Skylab during the shuttle era, where an early shuttle mission would have attached a booster to put it in a higher orbit, but Skylab's orbit decayed before the shuttle ever flew.

A good read exploring some of the possibilities and cons of keeping Skylab operational.

http://www.astronautix.com/s/skylabsuntimelyfate.html

« Last Edit: 06/14/2021 11:17 pm by Steve G »

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: Skylab A and B
« Reply #9 on: 06/15/2021 05:52 am »
There was a remaining Saturn 1 stage that could possibly have been upgraded to a pseudo-1B standard...

S-IB stages for SA-213 and -214 were actually built and delivered to MSFC: see Ed Kyle's Space Launch Report.

Quote
... it's likely one of the remaining CSM's would have been flown instead on a Titan III....

Adapting the CSM for flight on a Titan III variant would have been a sizeable project.  I doubt it would have been considered just for one or two launches.
Yes - I'm aware of their deliveries. If three or more CSM flights were to happen to a second Skylab; there were only 2x full S-1B first stages available. I spoke to a JSC engineer back in the 1990s about upgrading the spare Saturn 1 first stage to 1B standard. He said it would be somewhat of a hybrid; substituting the later model H-1 engines for the earlier ones and building a one-off interstage adapter to use an S-IVB stage with that Saturn 1 stage. And the first stage fins were also different. I'm unsure of the propellant quantity differences between the two stage types and I know the Saturn 1 stage was structurally a little heavier than the 1B version. It probably could have worked, though the kludge would have had slightly less performance overall than a proper 1B. I know Titan III's were briefly looked at to lift Apollo CSM's if their flights were continued well into the 1970s.

I mentioned here in an earlier post that launching a CSM and a co-manifested payload to Skylab B was one possibility. It might have been more logical than upgrading a Saturn 1 first stage or altering Titan III's to a man-rated status.
« Last Edit: 06/16/2021 12:50 pm by MATTBLAK »
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Offline davamanra

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Re: Skylab A and B
« Reply #10 on: 12/24/2021 07:20 pm »
I heard that there was Skylab 5 mission planned and one of its objectives was to raise the orbit enough so that there could have been Shuttle missions to Skylab.  What a waste of $2B worth of hardware!
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Offline Vahe231991

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Re: Skylab A and B
« Reply #11 on: 05/23/2023 12:45 am »
There was a scheme proposed in 1972 to the Skylab B to dock with a Salyut space station, and the first mission involving this scheme was planned for mid-1976. However, the proposed joint Salyut-Skylab B never materialized.

Links:
https://www.wired.com/2012/03/skylab-salyut-space-laboratory-1972/
http://spaceflighthistory.blogspot.com/2015/07/skylab-salyut-space-laboratory-1972.html

Technical documents pertaining to the Skylab B can be found at this thread:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=55906.0

Tags: CFD skylab b salyut 
 

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