back to article America's forgotten space station and a mission tinged with urine, we salute you

Two NASA anniversaries rolled around this week, but you would be forgiven for missing them. The first was the 45th anniversary of the launch of the United States' only solo Space Station, Skylab, designed to host astronauts for months at a time. The second big day, yesterday, marked 55 years since the space agency launched the …

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Re: Pedant's corner

The little wascal has spiwit.

Oh. Ahh, about eleven, sir.

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Atari Space Shuttle

I'm not sure if it was Skylab you rendezvoused with on the game, but it was to me.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/ZlpIw789EcE/hqdefault.jpg

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Trollface

Re: Atari Space Shuttle

Nah, nothing beats the Skylab Landing Bay level on Manic Miner on the ol' speccy ;)

https://youtu.be/aOkV6b7IOJM

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good youtube channel for this sort of stuff

Vintage Space

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Anonymous Coward

ah yes .. the Golden Shower mission.

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Lots to see here

I was still a child when Skylab was around, but I loved the old Horizon programmes about it, really great stuff! The fact that you could moved around in normal clothes, and they always looked like they were having so much fun*, spinning themselves around (demonstrating the law of conservation of angular momentum), and swallowing floating globules of water. Even as a kid I was sad when Skylab had to end. :'(

But then of course we had space shuttle coming! :-D

*the bits on TV anyway

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Trollface

Re: Swallowing floating globules of water

Methinks it'd be a brave man (or woman) to swallow any globules of "water" aboard anything designed or built by NASA.

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Re: Lots to see here

I was in school when Skylab crashed in Western Australia, and was ready to go searching in Esperance for bits of it. To a kid in Western Australia this was excitement with a capital E.

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Re: Lots to see here

I remember that a man in Philippines died of a heart attack from his anxiety that Skylab will fall on his head. And my dad's ( I was 9 at the time) cynical comment at the time: "... they'll just make sure it doesn't fall on American heads..."

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Re: Lots to see here

And NASA still hasn't paid the littering fine.

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Re: Lots to see here

http://mentalfloss.com/article/70708/nasas-unpaid-400-littering-ticket-skylab-debris-australia

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Anonymous Coward

The Right Stuff.

Nothing to add.

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Re: The Right Stuff.

The draw of space exploration is the kind of peculiar attraction Tom Wolfe went about trying to describe (RIP). Nowadays the rewards are not viewed as valuable enough to fund the risk involved.

I seem to remember more media coverage about Skylab crashing down than going up.

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I watched Salyut-7a few weeks ago. It gets a bit silly towards the end but overall it's very enjoyable.

Supposedly the most skilful docking of a spaceship in history.

More brave men..

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6537238/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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The movie is good. I wonder how much of the last part drama was true and how much was invented for cinema. Good to see such movies made out of the USA.

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Saw it two or three weeks ago. Worth watching.

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Black Helicopters

Men in Black

I read in a public, academic book, that when Skylab launched, NASA was keen to see what the wrongly/party deployed solar panels, and associated damage, looked like. The NRO had secret spy satellites, of the kind which drop a film cartridge when it's been filled, which NASA were not allowed to know about, nor anyone else really. Apparently NASA had a visit from sunglasses and dark suits, who said "Your top 4 engineers on this, in here, now; no-one else. Here are some photographs. You may look at them for 15 minutes. They do not leave this room. We were never here, you never saw this." And it helped them decide that fixing it on-orbit was feasible, and what they needed to take and do. According to one of those NASA engineers.

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Re: Men in Black

Hugo, this is detailed in a book I read recently. 'Into the Black' by Rowland White

The Keyhole spy satellites were used to look at the Space Shuttle once it reached orbit, to look for any tiles which had become detached. This took some fancy orbit calculations, and a high speed relative closing speed between Orbiter and Keyhole.

I believe the book said that by the time of the Columbia disaster there was not an inspection performed.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-spies-who-saved-the-space-shuttle

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Re: Men in Black

That's the book - thanks, your memory's better than mine.

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Nice work, El Reg

These articles really are worth the price of subscription.

It's unfortunate that the advances in space flight of the 60s could not have been more collaborative than competitive. It took until the ISS for that. But we shouldn't forget these genuine pioneers (no pun intended) and their courage.

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Re: Nice work, El Reg

>These articles really are worth the price of subscription.

Mind you, perhaps it is a good thing Skylab fell from orbit as otherwise it would mean gypsythief's Geek's Map of Britain would be having problems.

Perhaps this is a warning that soon we will need a Geeks Guide to the Galaxy...

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Re: Nice work, El Reg

"Geek's Guide to the Galaxy" has a nice ring to it.

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Re: "Geek's Guide to the Galaxy"

The sort of title one might stitch onto a commemorative towel, for example…

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Nice Work, El Reg - echo that

Having grown up during this timeframe, being the son of a pilot, loving all things aviation and space, and ending up as an engineer myself I thoroughly enjoyed this article.

Anyone who isn't in awe of the folks that rode rocket and have respect for the folks that worked to make it happen is missing out.

You see glimmers of it in SpaceX today, it is heart warming to see the excitement and cheering in the background.

I am not sure I would want a world populated only by engineers, but I love being around them and feel truly at home.

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Re: Nice Work, El Reg - echo that

True about SpaceX. A colleague of mine from McLaren F1 went over to work with SpaceX as an aerodynamics engineer. I'm proud to know him.

Ob Brexit comment - said chappie is originally from Italy and came over to the UK to work for McLaren.

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Bah!

I remember when the Shuttle was first a reality, one commentator (an astronaut who had velcro soles on Skylab time; can't remember who, though - stupid brain) remarked wryly that the only thing that worked properly on Skylab (by unanimous astronaut opinion) was the lavatory, and that [bafflingly] NASA was using a completely new design on the Shuttle.

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Re: Bah!

NASA doesn't have the infinite wisdom they think they do. The toilet is just part of it. The Mercury and Gemini capsules were built by the same firm. When it came to Apollo, they went with another firm which then had to go through the learning curve and it cost 3 astronauts their lives. Much info out there on why they chose to use 100% oxygen (bad choice) instead of a mix like Mercury and Gemini. Manufacturing had major issues such as not conformal coating terminal strips and leaving the debris from wiring behind. They learned but at a terrible price.

Then there's the politics... such as launching at below ambient temperatures for the solid booster seals because of pressure due to certain politicians be present.

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Pint

OP is quite correct

Skylab B in the National Air and Space Museum is quite a sight to behold and walk through. The whole museum is great, but the Skylab is mind blowing. Realizing you are standing inside a decked out *upper stage* fuel tank really drives home the immensity of a Saturn launch vehicle. In another exhibit you stand with your head inside the nozzle of a F-1 engine and realize that things just got real.

The one question I always had was how the astronauts could squeeze through the small hatches, what with their massive brass balls clanking together and all. Falling asleep while sitting on top of a bomb? I'd hate to see what makes these guys wake up...

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I spy, with my little eye...

I was surprised nobody (as yet) mentioned this:

The astronaut caused some controversy by claiming to be able to see railroad tracks and smoke-trails from orbit, something thought to be impossible. It took until a later Gemini flight to prove Cooper right.

If you do the calculations, Cooper shouldn't have been able to see those things. Plug in the diameter and focal length of the lens, resolution of the retina, Cooper's altitude, etc., and the conclusion is those objects are too small to make out.

Well, if you analyse it on the basis of a conventional camera, those things are too small to make out. But the human eye isn't a conventional camera. The eyes of all animals with foveal vision (that includes us) have microsaccades (small, jerky movements) when fixating on an object. The wetware in the brain is able to effectively increase the resolution of the eye by a kind of aperture synthesis. The different parts of the object either miss or hit a retinal cell during these movements and the brain stitches it all together to make a higher-resolution image.

Something we didn't even suspect happened until Cooper made his claims. And, I think, something of the sort is used in the cameras of modern mobiles to compensate for motion blur and other things.

Explanation above is greatly simplified and almost certainly wrong in the exact details. But close enough for El Reg commentards to argue over. :)

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Pint

Eye? Aye!

@handleocast, have an update on that post. I had no idea, and that's an awesome bit of knowledge.

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Pint

I remember as a kid watching all the Mercury and Gemini launches. I saw almost all the Apollo launches and landing on TV also. Marvelous times, indeed. It's only later when reading the stories behind the launches and about what really went on that I appreciated what those astronauts were up against besides "space". Steely eyed and steely balled they were. A toast....

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Alien

I need to boldly go

Number One.

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Heroes, one and all.

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