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Небесная лабораторияIn the history of cosmonautics in the US was the one and only orbital station. And the flight was with adventure - miss the astronauts did not have.

In orbit in the separation of the second stage jet brake motors one panel was finally separated. The second panel was not fully revealed: it jammed the same screen. Skylab was on "a hungry energy rations" - one that is not up to the end of the open solar panel could not nourish the station. The situation was partially rescued four small batteries, providing power to tens of astronomical instruments.

In orbit, but not entirely

on may 14, 1973, using two-stage rocket "Saturn-5" from the cosmodrome on Cape Canaveral was put into orbit space station "Skylab" ("Heavenly laboratory"). A moment later she received a serious injury at the 63rd seconds into the flight broke protivooterne screen surrounding the unit. The screen is damaged fastening one of the two panels of solar cells.

The trouble is, as usual, never comes alone: because that was overthrown and destroyed the protective screen, an important element of the thermal control system, inside the pressurized compartments designed for a comfortable life astronauts soared temperature (65 C).

NASA experts feared that the station will be filled with poisonous gases from plastic and other facing materials (they were not designed for such high temperature), valilava compartments inside.


Despite a serious risk to humans, may 25 at the emergency station went first crew. "Apollo" he lifted into space Charles Conrad (commander), Joseph Cervina (physician-astronaut) and Paul Weitz (pilot). They were called "the Sea team" - they were all the captains of the Navy.

On the same day the spacecraft approached with a "Skylab" and made a flight around for inspection and damage assessment. On the outer casing were visible bubbles from exposure to direct sunlight (if the screen, this would not have happened).

The station was huge: length (with sashtikavasam "Apollo") - 35,6 m, scale solar - 27 meters, weight - 91 tons (without ship - 75 tons).

Internal hermetic dimensions: length - 23 meters, capacity - 330 cubic meters. Maximum diameter of the compartments of 6.6 metres. By the way, ISS less "Skylab", and the equipment it is much more.

Tried to open the remaining panel. For this Weitz leaned on the shoulders of the hatch of the ship. He manipulated pole with a hook on the long handle, trying to snatch the chip, jammed the battery, while Conrad held the ship at a distance of one meter from the panel. Both astronaut cursed "the quiet American Mat".

Carvin recalled: "I have insured the Floor, clutching at his feet. Charlie rules ship, and every time, when Paul pulled the hook, the ship and the station was moving towards each other, maneuvering engines were included, and Conrad showed Boxing reaction, preventing collision. Impressive!"

The attempt was not successful. After half an hour of agony Weitz hardly got back in the "Apollo", but Conrad in a helmet and thoroughly hit the deck.

on may 26 the station and Apollo docked. With ten times! After the ninth failure astronauts razgermetizatsii cabin of the ship, saw the docking port, where in the electric circuit found a short circuit. Using a connecting cable circuit bypassed. The crew in the gas mask and toxic gas detector switched to Skylab. Weitz sauntered first: "As in the wilderness."

Temperature of 55 degrees, the metal parts will not touch. Had dinner and went to raise the "umbrella" (heat shield umbrella). Five hours Conrad and Weitz had to work in the hottest part of the laboratory compartment. Finally, the screen was launched from the space station on the rod through a tiny gateway, designed to bring out scientific equipment (made in order by the astronauts did not have EVAs), and under the action of springs unfolded, but not completely. One of the four telescopic spokes-supports not revealed, the material gathered in folds. However, the temperature in the station almost immediately began to decline (half a degree per hour). And it soon became clear-on "Skylab" you can live!

Getting started

on may 27, began the station activation. You needed to get out of a hundred cabinets about 20 thousand things. To understand where it is, the crew helped the computer and managers.

Hammocks to sleep on a "Skylab" was very convenient. The food is great (thanks to refrigerators it is not spoiled). And working clothes - socks-Shoe covers, t-shirts, shorts helped to feel at home. It was good and that each astronaut was private cabin.

Introduced a duty - bedtime one of the astronauts circled all the compartments. The list of alleged dangers include fire, solar flares and the breakdown covering a meteorite (the hole had to manually shut special rubber stopper).

In a televised session the audience noticed how big the station. Astronauts ran around the inner circle of compartments, just a squirrel in a cage. Charles recalled: "Right, we didn't go ever. Always did a somersault over the head or jump head over heels".

Conrad added: "Personally, I never got tired of weightlessness - she is amazing. We got used to it during the 28 days of flight and wanted to return to earth's gravity. Space - tempting thing."

But for scheduled 58 experiments lacked energy.

That means we need to prepare for the second spacewalk.

Push in the abyss

June 7, Carvin and Conrad went into space to fix the panel. Wielded seven-meter pole with fixed end-metal-cutting shears. Joseph was hardly touched the pole for a metal band that holds the solar panel. Hand over hand on the pole, Charles, secured by the rope, came to the accident site and inspected gripped panel to open to interfere with an aluminium strip. Charles used a pair of scissors. Hindrance unexpectedly easily into fragments, and released the panel sharply spryginia, slamming astronaut away, but the rope gave him to fly into outer space.

Astronauts wearily reported on the Earth: the battery took the planned position - 90 degrees to the axis of the station. The PMU is also pleased - went battery life. It was a complete victory!

Three on-orbit, working overtime, managed to do all the experiments: medical and metallurgical tests, extensive observations of the Sun, monitoring the U.S. inventory of natural resources. Carvin conducted regular medical examinations themselves and their colleagues, the more his talent doctor, fortunately, was not needed.

on June 22, "Apollo" left "Skylab". The descent capsule with astronauts landed in 1300 kilometers from San Diego and 40 minutes was raised on the deck of the ship.
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