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May 14, 2018 - Limping to Orbit

Limping to Orbit  America’s first space station got off to a rough start forty-five years ago this week. During its ascent to orbit, one of Skylab’s two solar wings was torn off because of air drag, taking with it a micrometeoroid shield designed to protect Skylab from the Sun’s intense radiation. When the solar panel tore off, it also jammed the remaining solar wing in the closed position. By the time Skylab reached orbit, less than ten minutes after launch, it was practically without electricity and baking in the sunlight, with interior temperatures hovering around 52° C (125° F). Skylab is seen here after repairs by the first visiting crew, who freed the remaining solar wing and installed a yellow “parasol” over the space station’s exposed skin to help shield the station from sunlight and lower its internal temperature.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

May 14 - 20, 2018

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Monday 14

1973: Skylab launched
2009: Herschel and Planck space observatories launched
2010: STS-132 Atlantis launched

Tuesday 15

New Moon 7:48 AM ET

1857: Williamina Fleming born
: Sputnik 3 launched
1963: Faith 7 launched, last Mercury program flight
1997: STS-84 Atlantis launched, sixth Mir docking mission
2012: Soyuz TMA-04M launched carrying ISS Expedition 31/32 crew

Wednesday 16

Aldebaran 1.2° south of Moon

2011: STS-134 Endeavour launched

Thursday 17

Venus 5° north of Moon
Moon at perigee

1836: Norman Lockyer born
1974: SMS-1 launched, first geostationary weather satellite

Friday 18

1969: Apollo 10 launched
1984: Viking 1 lander given to National Air & Space Museum
1996: First test flight of DC-XA rocket
: 23rd and final spacewalk to service the Hubble Space Telescope

Saturday 19

1965: Apollo A-003 launched
1996: STS-77 Endeavour launched
2000: STS-101 Atlantis launched

Sunday 20

1978: Pioneer-Venus 1 launched
1995: Spektr module launched to Mir space station

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.