Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 45

Skylab 3


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Launch, orbit and landing data

Launch date:  28.07.1973
Launch time:  11:11 UTC
Launch site:  Cape Canaveral (KSC)
Launch pad:  39-B
Altitude:  415 - 424 km
Inclination:  50.04°
Docking Skylab:  28.07.1973, 19:37:00 UTC
Undocking Skylab:  25.09.1973, 11:16:42 UTC
Landing date:  25.09.1973
Landing time:  22:19 UTC
Landing site:  30° 47' N, 120° 29' W

walkout photo

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alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo


No.   Surname Given names Position Flight No. Duration Orbits
1  Bean  Alan LaVern  CDR 2 59d 11h 09m  858 
2  Garriott  Owen Kay  PLT 1 59d 11h 09m  858 
3  Lousma  Jack Robert  CMP 1 59d 11h 09m  858 

Crew seating arrangement

1  Bean
2  Garriott
3  Lousma

Backup Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Brand  Vance DeVoe  CDR
2  Lenoir  William Benjamin "Bill"  PLT
3  Lind  Don Leslie  CMP

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Support Crew

  Surname Given names
 Crippen  Robert Laurel "Crip"
 Truly  Richard Harrison "Dick"
 Hartsfield  Henry Warren, Jr. "Hank"
 Thornton  William Edgar


Launch from Cape Canaveral (KSC); landing 370 km southwest of San Diego in the Pacific Ocean.

During the approach phase, problems developed in the Apollo CSM's reaction control system, and a leak formed. The crew was able to safely dock with Skylab, but troubleshooting would continue with the problem. For the first time, an Apollo spacecraft would be rolled out to Launch Complex 39 for a rescue mission, made possible by the ability for the station to have two Apollo CSMs docked at the same time. They eventually fixed the problem, and the rescue mission was never launched.

This mission carried the second crew of the Skylab space station. Skylab 3 continued a comprehensive medical research program that extended the data on human physiological adaptation and readaptation to space flight collected on the previous Skylab 2 mission. In addition, Skylab 3 extended the astronauts stay in space from approximately one month to two months. Therefore, the effects of flight duration on physiological adaptation and readaptation could be examined.

A set of core medical investigations were performed on all three Skylab manned missions. These core investigations were the same basic investigations that were performed on Skylab 2, except that the Skylab 3 inflight tests were supplemented with extra tests based on what researchers learned from the Skylab 2 science results. For example, only leg volume measurements, preflight and postflight stereophotogrammetry, and in-flight maximum calf girth measurements were originally scheduled for all three Skylab missions.

In-flight photographs from Skylab 2 revealed the "puffy face syndrome" which prompted the addition of in-flight torso and limb girth measurements to gather more data on the apparent headward fluid shift on Skylab 3. Other additional tests included arterial blood flow measurements by an occlusive cuff placed around the leg, facial photographs taken before flight and during flight to study the "puffy face syndrome", venous compliance, hemoglobin, urine specific gravity, and urine mass measurements. These inflight tests gave additional information about fluid distribution and fluid balance to get a better understanding of the fluid shift phenomena.

The Skylab 3 biological experiments studied the effects of microgravity on mice, fruit flies, single cells and cell culture media. Human lung cells were flown to examine the biochemical characteristics of cell cultures in the microgravity environment. The two animal experiments were entitled Chronobiology of Pocket Mice and Circadian Rhythm in Vinegar Gnats. Both experiments were unsuccessful due to a power failure 30 hours after launch, which killed the animals

High school students from across the United States participated in the Skylab missions as the primary investigators of experiments that studied astronomy, physics, and fundamental biology. The student experiments performed on Skylab 3 included the study of libration clouds, x-rays from Jupiter, in-vitro immunology, spider web formation, cytoplasmic streaming, mass measurement, and neutron analysis.

The crew's health was assessed on Skylab by collecting data on dental health, environmental and crew microbiology, radiation, and toxicological aspects of the Skylab orbital workshop. Other assessments were made of astronaut maneuvering equipment and of the habitability of the crew quarters, and crew activities/maintenance experiments were examined on Skylab 2 through 4 to better understand the living and working aspects of life in space.

EVAs: by Owen Garriott and Jack Lousma on August 06, 1973 (6h 31m), Owen Garriott and Jack Lousma on August 24, 1973 (4h 30m), Alan Bean and Owen Garriott on September 22, 1973 (2h 41m). They conducted repairing work on the station (deploying twin pole solar shield) and replaced film cartridges for solar camera.

The crew was in better condition after the landing, than the Skylab 2 crew. It was a new flight duration record. The recovery ship was the USS New Orleans.

Photos / Drawings

Skylab crew in training
crew in training
Earth observation
Earth observation Earth observation
EVA Bean

more Earth observation photos

more EVA photos


Last update on June 30, 2014.