Curtailment of the Apollo moon landings meant that surplus Saturn V's were available, so the pre-equipped, five times heavier, and much more capable Skylab resulted.
The external solar/meteoroid shield ripped off during ascent, tearing away one solar panel wing and debris jamming the remaining panel. Without the shield internal temperatures soared to 52 deg C. Launch of the first crew was delayed for 10 days to develop procedures and crew training to make the workshop habitable. Repairs by subsequent crews led to virtually all mission objectives being met. It was intended that the station would be revisited and boosted to a higher orbit on the third flight of the space shuttle. But delays in the shuttle program and higher-than-anticipated atmospheric drag led to the station decaying from orbit well before the first shuttle launch. Skylab re-entered the earth's atmosphere amid worldwide hysteria on 11 July 1979, with chunks of the disintegrating space station crashing over a wide area of Australia.
Skylab's scientific payloads included:
From fore to aft, Skylab was made up of the following modules, each with their own development history and heritage from the earlier Orbital Workshop and Apollo Applications Program: MDA Multiple Docking Adapter: 5.2 m x 3.05 ft diameter / ATM Apollo Telescope Mount: 3.96 m x 3.05 ft diameter / AM Airlock Module: 5.49 m x 3.05 ft diameter / IU Instrument Unit: 0.9 m x 2.04 m diameter / OWS Orbital Workshop: 14.6 m x 6.7 ft diameter.
Crew Size: 3. Orbital Storage: 730 days. Habitable Volume: 361.00 m3. RCS Coarse No x Thrust: Reaction wheels. Electric System: 11.00 average kW.
Gross mass: 76,295 kg (168,201 lb).
Height: 36.12 m (118.50 ft).
Span: 21.00 m (68.00 ft).
First Launch: 1973.05.14.
Number: 1 .
An unexpected telemetry indication of meteoroid shield deployment and solar array wing 2 beam fairing separation was received 1 minute and 3 seconds after liftoff. However, all other systems of the OWS appeared normal, and the OWS was inserted into a near-circular Earth orbit of approximately 435 km altitude. The payload shroud was jettisoned, and the ATM with its solar array was deployed as planned during the first orbit. Deployment of the Workshop solar array and the meteoroid shield was not successful. In fact the xternal solar/meteoroid shield had ripped off 63 seconds into ascent, tearing away one solar panel wing and debris jamming the remaining panel. Without shield temperatures soared in station. Repairs by crews led to virtually all mission objectives being met.
Following the final manned phase of the Skylab mission, ground controllers performed some engineering tests of certain Skylab systems--tests that ground personnel were reluctant to do while men were aboard. Results from these tests helped to determine causes of failures during the mission and to obtain data on long term degradation of space systems.
Upon completion of the engineering tests, Skylab was positioned into a stable attitude and systems were shut down. It was expected that Skylab would remain in orbit eight to ten years. It was to have been visited by an early shuttle mission, reboosted into a higher orbit, and used by space shuttle crews. But delays in the first flight of the shuttle made this impossible.
On July 11, 1979, Skylab disintegrated when it re-entered the earth's atmosphere after a worldwide scare over its pending crash. The debris stretched from the south-east Indian Ocean into Western Australia. Additional Details: here....