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Skylab, the first space station


Space stations are basically large satellites where astronauts can live for months on end. Skylab was the first space station built by the USA. It was an orbiting home and science laboratory, where nine astronauts worked and lived.




Skylab was designed to study many different things, and to see how well people could live in a weightless state.


Here's a mission patch badge.



108m by 87m






76,295 kg






£40 billion




Orbit time


90 minutes



Skylab was launched on a Saturn V rocket on May 14th, 1973 and had a disastrous start to its journey. One of Skylab's wings with solar cells had been ripped off during launch. The astronauts had to build a huge umbrella of gold foil to protect Skylab from over-heating.


Skylab carried the Apollo Telescope Mount (ATM), which had a whole range of solar telescopes and provided amazing pictures of the Sun. Here is a giant explosion seen in helium emission. mouse over arrow


The astronauts had to work, eat and sleep in a weightless state. mouse over arrow

They even carried out an experiment to see if a spider, Arabella, could make a web without the help of gravity. mouse over arrow


Well, it's not the best web in the world, but it's probably the best web in space and Arabella was proud to call it home!


The orbit of Skylab gave the astonauts a fantastic view of the Earth. Here is a photo of the UK mouse over arrow, can you recognise where you live?





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