restricted access 5. A Tour of Skylab
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5. A Tour of Skylab Perhaps the best way to begin a tour of Skylab is to begin where its crews did—on the outside, with a look at the station’s exterior. If a crew in an Apollo Command Module were to approach Skylab with its docking port before them, the nearest module would be the Multiple Docking Adapter ()). From the exterior, the ) was basically a nondescript cylinder, marked primarily by its two docking ports. One of the docking ports, the one used by the crews docking with Skylab, was located on the end of the cylinder. The second, the radial docking port, was at a ninetydegree angle from the first, on the circumference of the ). The other notable feature of the Multiple Docking Adapter was the truss structure that surrounded it and connected it to the Apollo Telescope Mount (=)), on the side of Skylab opposite the radial docking port. The =) is easily recognized by its four solar arrays, which had a very distinctive windmill appearance. Between the four rectangular arrays was a cylinder that housed the =)’s eight solar astronomy instruments. Covers over the instrument apertures rotated back and forth, revealing the instruments when they were in use and protecting them from possible contamination when they were not. Continuing from ), the crew would next come to the Airlock Module ()), a smaller cylinder partially tucked into the end of the exterior hull of the larger workshop cylinder. The Airlock Module was most notable , as the name suggests, for its airlock featuring an exterior door allowing the crew to egress to conduct spacewalks outside the station. While the program that spawned Skylab had been dubbed “Apollo Applications” for its extensive use of Apollo hardware and technology, the Airlock Module was actually a “Gemini Application”—the door used for Cs was a Gemini spacecraft hatch. The airlock and all the spacewalk equipment on Skylab were designed for one purpose—to allow the crew to retrieve and replace film from the solar } • |• •=3B8•3•:%H' telescope cameras on the Apollo Telescope Mount. “There was no thought of the crews doing repairs or maintenance on other things,” Kerwin said. “Little did we know!” The airlock was partly covered by the Fixed Airlock Shroud, a stout aluminum cylinder that was a forward extension of the skin of the workshop. The aft struts from which the Apollo Telescope Mount was suspended were mounted here. The truss structure included a path, complete with handholds that spacewalking astronauts could use to move from the airlock hatch to the =) so that they could change out the film. Finally moving farther past the Airlock Module, the crew would reach the largest segment of Skylab, the cylindrical Orbital Workshop. This was the portion that consisted of the modified :n#C stage. As it was originally constructed , the most distinctive features of the station were the two solar array wings, which stretched out to either side and which were to be the primary source of electrical power for the workshop. Prior to launch the photovoltaic cells that made up the arrays folded up flat against the beam that would hold them out from the sides of the workshop. These beams, in turn, folded down against the outside of the :n#C stage in its launch configuration, making the wings much more aerodynamic for the flight into orbit. After completing their fly around, a crew would return to the top of the Multiple Docking Adapter and dock their spacecraft to the station. A complete tour of the interior of Skylab should begin right there on their capsule . After docking, the Command and Service Module became a part of the cluster. While there were occasions when things needed to be done in the Command Module, they were few. Perhaps its primary use while docked with Skylab was essentially as a telephone booth; crewmembers could float up to the Command Module to find a little privacy for conducting spaceto -ground communications with their loved ones at home on a back-up frequency that was not available in the workshop. Upon opening the hatch and entering Skylab, the crew would first find themselves inside the ). Originally planned to have a total of four docking ports around its circumference, the ) lost three as a result of the switch from the wet workshop to the dry. When the wet workshop cluster, which had to be assembled individually on orbit, was replaced with a facility launched all at once as a dry workshop, the additional...


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