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Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story (Outward Odyssey: A People's History of S) Hardcover – November 1, 2008
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Skylab was launched in 1973 after a number of years in development alongside the Apollo Program. While Mercury, Gemini and Apollo all had a singular purpose (to see if people could reach space and survive, to see if people could exist in space and if people could reach the moon, land and return), Skylab diverged from this main mission of lunar exploration and was essentially the start of the modern space program with vast implications: it was designed to see whether people could life in outer space. This mission has influenced our advances into orbit since - with the construction of the space shuttle, Mir and the International Space Station, and future missions to the Moon and to Mars, each owes (or will owe) much to the Skylab mission.
Skylab was interesting. As noted in the opening of the book, it was built from pre-existing parts, scraped from other programs and components. The station itself was part of the Saturn Rocket, an empty fuel tank, that was refitted and placed into orbit.Read more ›
A 100-ton orbital workshop was launched into orbit with the last use of the giant Saturn V launch vehicle in June 1973. Almost immediately, technical problems developed due to vibrations during lift off and the first crew to fly, astronauts Pete Conrad, Paul J. Weitz, and "Homesteading Space" co-author Joseph P. Kerwin, had to resolve them and make Skylab operational. That first group of astronauts returned to Earth on June 22, 1973, and two other Skylab crews followed, one each with co-authors Garriott and Bean.
All three crews occupied the Skylab workshop for a total of 171 days and 13 hours. It was the site of nearly 300 scientific and technical experiments. In Skylab, both the total hours in space and the total hours spent in performance of EVA under microgravity conditions exceeded the combined totals of all of the world's previous space flights up to that time.
Skylab was the first real test of long-duration spaceflight undertaken by the United States. "Homesteading Space" is a useful personal recollection of three astronauts who flew on Skylab. It is a welcome account of a lesser known program.
I picked this volume up immediately after finishing the terrific "In the Shadow of the Moon: A Challenging Journey to Tranquility, 1965-1969". I was so impressed with the quality of "Journey" that I was certain that "Homesteading" would be worth reading. Indeed, I was not disappointed.
Since few authors have ever devoted the kind of attention to Skylab that Apollo has received (aside from the dry, official NASA documents), a void was really waiting to be filled. Until now, there's been a serious gap in the historical record. One of the best things about the "People's History" series is its reliance on first-person eyewitness accounts. In this volume, the story of Skylab is brought to life by those who designed it, lived aboard it and supported it from the ground. "Homesteading" relies heavily upon lengthy quotes from the astronauts themselves, assembled from relatively recent (post-2000) oral histories. The reader gets direct accounts from Alan Beam, Jack Lousma, Owen Garriot, Joe Kerwin, Paul Weitz and many others. (It's terribly unfortunate that Pete Conrad's untimely death in 1999 prevented him from being similarly interviewed as he considered his crew's rescue of Skylab more significant than his Apollo 12 lunar landing mission.)
The tales range from the high drama of rescuing Skylab from its nearly fatal launch malfunction to chronicles of the reality of living in space for extended periods.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have not finished this book (yet) but I find it to be detailed and fascinating. It supports my research but I would otherwise read it just to enjoy it. Read morePublished 7 months ago by W. Weber
Superbly written and researched, I have read most of the Odyssey series and they really are the benchmark for all other
space exploration books to be measured against, this is... Read more
An excellent book about Skylab and a time when U.S. space engineers were allowed to be bold and this country was
allowed to have its' own space station. Read more
To technical...to much about poop in space. I was really wanting a better read and I didn't get it. The people that went on the missions were hero's...the book is a dud!Published on February 10, 2013 by Howard Wiley
Skylab was the U.S. space program to follow the historic Moon landings. After Apollo, people started to ask if it was possible for humans to live long-term in the zero-gravity,... Read morePublished on August 22, 2011 by Andrew
This is a great book. Although Skylab is a distant memory, this book gives great insight into the challenges and dramas of mankind's pursuit of space flight / colonization. Read morePublished on September 27, 2010 by Nicholas Assef
As other reviewers have noted, this is an excellent addition to the Outward Odyssey series. The only pity is that it comes 'hot on the heels' of David Shayler's "Around the World... Read morePublished on April 14, 2009 by Have Read Them All