Encyclopedia Astronautica
1973.05.23 - NASA Administrator briefed Senate on Skylab 1.


NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher briefed members of the Senate on the anomalies that occurred during liftoff and orbit of Skylab 1.

letcher summarized as follows:

1. We encountered unexpected problems with the micrometeroid shield and the workshop solar arrays.

2. These problems led to overheating and reduced power.

3. We believe we can control the heating by one of several fixes executed by the crew of Skylab 2.

4. We will try to improve the power situation, but even if we can't, there is enough for nearly normal execution of the 28- and 56-day missions. They are going to look at the condition of the solar panels. They are not going to spend too much time on that because we have enough power. If it looks like an easy thing to do, if one of the panels, which is missing here, is partially deployed and is hung Up on something and all it needs is a little tug, we will put a loop of twine around the end of it, play it out 50 that we are well away from the panel in case it starts to deploy, and give a little tug on the twine. If it deploys, fine; but if it does not, we will go on without it. But we are not going to spend too much time on that fix. There are too many uncertainties and we do not really need the power.

5. We will be unable to carry out some 3 out of the planned 87 experiments. This is normal for almost any test of this complexity. Usually we aren't able to complete the large number of experiments that are planned. In this particular case we estimate that three of them will not be able to be carried out. Those are primarily the ones that would have come out of the airlock. If there is a sunshade over the airlock you can't do very many experiments from it. The remaining experiments, in our judgment, fully warrant going ahead with the repair activity and then executing as much of the fully planned program as possible.

6. There will be no relaxation of safety considerations in the conduct of the replanned Skylab missions.

7. We have established a Skylab I investigation board whose findings will be reported to the committee as soon as available. In closing, let us say that the crew, the Skylab team, and NASA management are cautiously confident-some more than others, hut all are optimistic-that the Skylab 2 mission will be a historic one and that it will permit us to meet almost all of the major objectives of the Skylab program.

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