Skylab Rescue


Skylab Rescue

The Skylab Rescue mission was a backup contingency for a rescue flight to the Skylab space station. The Saturn IB rocket, AS-208 was assembled in the Vertical Assembly Building at Launch Complex 39 for possible use. It used a modified Command Module that was to be launched with a crew of 2. The standard Skylab Command Module accommodated a crew of three with storage lockers on the aft bulkhead for resupply of experiment film and other equipment, as well as the return of exposed film, data tapes and experiment samples. To convert the standard CM to a rescue vehicle, the storage lockers were removed and replaced with two crew couches in order to seat five crewmen.

Plans for outfitting an existing Apollo CSM into a rescue space vehicle date back to November 1970 when North American Rockwell technicians conceived the possibility of a rescue mission, as depicted in the 1969 film Marooned.

After Skylab 3 was launched, it developed a problem with two of the Command/Service Modules Reaction Control System thruster quads. They were leaking fuel, reducing the available quads to just two, the minimum for continuation of the mission. NASA monitored the situation, and at one point actually rolled Skylab Rescue out to LC-39B. If there had been a need for a rescue mission, NASA announced on August 4, 1973, the mission would have been flown by Skylab 3 and Skylab 4 backup crewmen Vance Brand and Don Lind.

After the Skylab 4 launch, another rescue flight was assembled as a backup contingency. The Saturn IB rocket, AS-209 was assembled in the Vehicle Assembly Building at Launch Complex 39 for possible use. It also used a modified Command Module that was to be launched with a crew of 2. This launch vehicle and command module were later used as a backup to the ASTP mission, and are now on display at Kennedy Space Center visitor complex. After sitting untouched for over 30 years, the Skylab Rescue command module, in 2007, was "commandeered" by NASA engineers for studies on the spacecraft's life support adapter assembly (the projecting aerodynamic fairing that allows oxygen, water, and electricity to flow from the Service Module to the Command Module), in support for the design and construction of a similar system on the new Orion spacecraft, itself based heavily on the Skylab Rescue configuration.

As for the Skylab Rescue astronauts, Vance Brand would later fly on "Apollo-Soyuz" as command module pilot, later commanding several Space Shuttle flights, while Don Lind would wait nearly another 11 years before he flew as a mission specialist on the STS-51-B mission in 1985.

Crew

*Vance Brand Commander
*Don Lind Pilot

ee also

* STS-3xx
* Orion spacecraft

References

* [http://www.astronautix.com/flights/skyescue.htm Skylab Rescue] at the Encyclopedia Astronautica


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