Do you have a space enthusiast or a future astronaut in your homeschool? Then why not take a few minutes this week to learn about Skylab, America’s first space station, launched on this day in 1973, exactly fifty years ago.
After the successful Apollo program and the moon landings of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the next step for NASA was the construction of a semi-permanent space station. That space station was Skylab, and it was to go into operation in May 1973 with two launches in succession: first, the unmanned station itself (on May 14th), and then the next day, the astronaut crew who would dock with the station and take control. But all did not go according to plan. The station’s automated solar panels didn’t deploy correctly, and the launch of the accompanying crew was delayed until engineers could figure out how the astronauts could repair the solar panels in orbit (which they did, two weeks later). Once those problems were overcome, the Skylab program moved forward successfully and had many important scientific accomplishments.
Here’s NASA’s official Skylab website, full of interesting information about the Skylab program and its discoveries:
And here’s a five-minute Skylab documentary, also from NASA, that gives a good overview of the program — it’s just the thing for a quick homeschool lesson:
To get a real sense of the historical moment, there’s nothing better than a live recording of the launch itself — this one is from NBC News. Students today may have a hard time understanding how millions of people all across the country were glued to their televisions during these early space launches:
Perhaps you have a future astronaut in your homeschool. The International Space Station awaits, and then, on to Mars! 🚀
What out-of-this-world astronomical discoveries have you made in your homeschool this Leo Term? 😊
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