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Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story (Outward Odyssey: A People's History of S) Hardcover – November 1, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Pioneering long-duration spaceflight, the three Skylab missions are chronicled here by an authorial team that includes Skylab astronauts Owen Garriott and Joe Kerwin. Written largely in oral-history style, with extensive quotation from participants in the Skylab program, the work explains the genesis of the space-station concept, the decisions that led to its actual configuration, and the station’s near-death experience when launched in 1973. As space-history readers know, critical pieces of Skylab ripped off during its launch, causing a crisis overcome by repairs the first crew made in one of NASA’s finer moments. Less known was a danger confronted by the second crew that compelled NASA to prepare an improvised rescue mission (which proved unnecessary), and not known at all is the fact that astronaut Alan Bean secretly wrote a journal during his sojourn on Skylab. Published here for the first time, Bean’s diary, added to voice transcripts of space walks, produces the you-are-there immediacy that buffs crave. They’ll be delighted to encounter this original work, which is ideal for browsing. --Gilbert Taylor


"A worthy account of an important but largely forgotten program. . . . For those who would like to learn more about the achievement, Homesteading Space offers valuable personal recollections from those who were there."—Roger Launius, Air & Space
(Air & Space Roger Launius)

"A well-told saga of Skylab from start to fiery fall."—Coalition for Space Exploration
(Coalition for Space Exploration 2008-12-02)

"Savvy consumers of space history have come to expect high quality in the "Outward Odyssey—A People's History of Spaceflight" series edited by Colin Burgess. This fourth volume definitely does not disappoint."—Rick W. Sturdevant, Air Power History
(Rick W. Sturdevant Air Power History)

"Published here for the first time, [Alan] Bean's diary, added to voice transcripts of space walks, produces the you-are-there immediacy that buffs crave."—Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
(Gilbert Taylor Booklist 2008-11-15)

"Homesteading Space is not just about the scientific knowledge that was obtained in orbit—this is the story of the astronauts who conducted the experiments, who lived in space for weeks or months at a time, and how they coped."—Andrew J. Liptak, Worlds in a Grain of Sand blog
(Andrew J. Liptak Worlds in a Grain of Sand 2008-12-31)

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Product Details

  • Series: Outward Odyssey: A People's History of S
  • Hardcover: 548 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press (November 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803224346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803224346
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #399,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andrew Liptak on January 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The University of Nebraska Press has undertaken a huge series that I have been paying close attention to over the past year - the Outward Odyssey Series, which examines the human endeavors into outer space. The latest installment, Homesteading Space turns to a relatively unknown element, but crucial element of our trips to orbit, Skylab. Like the prior books, Into that Silent Sea, In the Shadow of the Moon and To A Distant Day, we are not only treated to a wealth of information about the technical aspects of the program, but the implications and human element of it.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
"Homesteading Space" tells a significant part of the story of the Skylab orbital workshop, the first American space station launched in 1973 and occupied through the middle part of 1974 by three crews of astronauts. Owen Garriott, Joseph P. Kerwin, and Alan L. Bean were all astronauts that flew aboard Skylab and with the help of journalist David Hitt they do a credible job of telling their story.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For me, Apollo has always been where it's at. Big rockets, big missions, groundbreaking history. Skylab? A bunch of guys floating around the earth for months at a time. Dull, right? Your mind will most certainly be changed when you read this excellent addition to the "People's History of Spaceflight" series.

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.
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