(NASA also used some of this gear for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, a historic 1975 joint space mission with the Soviet Union.). There was a problem. ISS astronauts generally serve six-month stints, though NASA's Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Korniyenko stayed aboard the station for 11 months, from March 2015 through March 2016.

© And that $400 littering fine? Visit our corporate site. Five years after the last Skylab mission, the space station’s orbit began to deteriorate–earlier than was anticipated–because of unexpectedly high sunspot activity. America's first orbital outpost dropped some big pieces on Western Australia. Get breaking space news and the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more! The first Skylab crew spent a fair chunk of their time repairing the outpost. Receive mail from us on behalf of our trusted partners or sponsors? Thank you for signing up to Space. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. Ground controllers did their best to bring the 85-ton (77 metric tons) station down over the Indian Ocean, where its broken-apart pieces couldn't hurt anyone. The three astronauts — Charles Conrad, Paul Weitz and Joseph Kerwin — stayed aloft for 28 days, setting a  record for the longest continuous in-space stint. "All three expeditions produced a vast study of the Earth — its crops, weather and changes in environment," NASA officials wrote in 2013.

Our image of the day. Skylab, America's first space station, launched in May 1973 and came crashing back to Earth on July 11, 1979. Skylab showed that astronauts could live and work in space for long durations, paving the way for the International Space Station (ISS), which has hosted rotating crews continuously since November 2000. Receive news and offers from our other brands? British mathematician Desmond King-Hele of the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) predicted in 1973 that Skylab would de-orbit and crash to Earth in 1979, sooner than NASA's forecast, because of increased solar activity. The second crewed mission launched in July 1973 and lasted 59 days. Mike Wall's book about the search for alien life, "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), is out now. "In reality, while NASA took sufficient precautions so that no one was injured, its leaders had learned that the agency could never again allow a situation in which large chunks of orbital debris had a chance of reaching the Earth's surface," he added. On July 11, 1979, with Skylab rapidly descending from orbit, engineers fired the station’s booster rockets, sending it into a tumble they hoped would bring it down in the Indian Ocean… Skylab itself was a modified third stage of a Saturn V moon rocket, and it launched atop a Saturn V on May 14, 1973 — the final mission for the storied booster. The third lifted off that November and touched down in February 1974, racking up 84 days in orbit. No more crews visited Skylab, and the station's orbit steadily decayed over the next few years, bringing it closer and closer to a fiery death in Earth's atmosphere. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Astronauts traveled to and from Skylab in the Apollo command and service module, which was lofted by the Saturn 1B, the Saturn V's smaller cousin. The space station weighed a whopping 77,000 kilograms (170,000 pounds) – for comparison, Tiangong-1 … NASA's Skylab plans called for three crewed missions, each lofting three astronauts. New York,

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