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Skylab, America’s First Space Station (50th Anniversary)


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Hello, Everyone! This is my product idea submission based on Skylab, America’s first space station.

A Brief History of Skylab

Skylab was developed under the Apollo Applications Program (AAP). Separate from the Apollo program, the AAP was established to develop science-based human flight missions using leftover hardware from the Apollo program. Made from an existing S-IVB rocket stage that was converted, the unmanned Skylab space station lifted off on May 14, 1973, onboard a Saturn V rocket. Shortly after liftoff, the space station's micrometeoroid shield was ripped away, along with one of its two main solar panel wings. The other one became jammed. The Skylab first crew managed to save the entire program by freeing the jammed solar panel wing via spacewalk and deploying a parasol-like sunshade over the orbital workshop to bring the station’s temperatures down to a tolerable level.  

For my Submission, I’ve decided to base my model on the Fully intact version of Skylab.

Despite the rough start, Skylab became a successful space station. Operated by 3 separate 3-astronaut crews, Skylab made huge breakthroughs in terms of scientific data and living/working in the space environment. Each Skylab mission extended the record amount of time for humans in space. Skylab is also known for being the first time in which experiments created by school students were conducted in space. After the last crew departed, the space station went unoccupied for many years until its reentry into Earth's atmosphere.

While Skylab’s orbit was decaying, NASA was considering ways how to boost the space station into a higher orbit to increase its lifespan, one of which was to use gear that was launched aboard a space shuttle. It became eventually apparent that it would come down sooner than predicted because of the increase in solar activity from the sun. This made Earth’s atmosphere expand and created drag on the space station, causing its orbital speed to decrease. In the hours leading up to Skylab's demise, NASA ground controllers adjusted its orientation to minimize the risk of it landing in a populated area. The ground controllers had hoped it would fully break up and come down over an area 810 miles (1,300 km) south-southeast of Cape Town, South Africa. It reentered Earth’s atmosphere on July 11, 1979. Skylab didn’t burn up as quickly as expected, and debris from the space station managed to land in some areas of Western Australia during its reentry. Fortunately, no one was hurt, and no property was reportedly damaged. After the reentry event, the Shire of Esperance lightheartedly slapped NASA on the wrist with a $400 fine for littering.

About This Product Idea Submission

With this set, you have the option of using the Skylab model in different ways. This is possible because of the features that have been incorporated into the design.

The List of Features: 

  • First and foremost, I Designed this product idea with the intent of it being compatible with the LEGO ideas Saturn V set, meaning that you can easily swap out the regular S-IVB rocket stage for the Skylab space station payload and vice versa.

  • Having the option of displaying Skylab in its orbital configuration with the Apollo command and service module, or displaying Skylab vertically in its launch configuration with the payload shroud.

  • The Apollo Telescope Mount, the box-like structure with the 4 solar panel wings resembling an ‘X’ shape, can hinge 90 degrees from its undeployed position to its deployed position and vice versa. The single 2x3 solar panel decal tiles with clips on the apollo telescope mount represent the solar panel wings in the undeployed position.

  • The solar panels on the main solar wings can be attached or detached. 

  • The main solar wings are attached by tow balls to the Skylab orbital workshop. They can be hinged to the flat undeployed position alongside the workshop or to the deployed position.

  • The stand in the center for vertical display use can be rotated 360 degrees, allowing for multiple viewing angles. 

This product idea submission has a total of 730 parts:

  • The Skylab space station has 541 parts.

  • The Apollo command and service modules are 17 parts.

  • The display base with the display stands is 139 parts.  

  • The payload protection shroud has 24 parts.

  • There are 3 6x6 tiles and 4 4x4 tiles in dark grey with decals for the display base. 

  • 2 White Minifig Statuettes with NASA Spacesuit Outfits.

I created this product idea submission with the thought of this being a fantastic LEGO Ideas set because Skylab in my opinion seems like a widely overlooked space program that needs a lot more recognition. Skylab paved the way for the Space Shuttle Program, the International Space Station, and many other space programs in many aspects. If the repairs on Skylab wouldn’t have been able be done then the program would have failed, and who knows what would have happened next in terms of both astronomy and space exploration afterward. The repairs on the Hubble Space Telescope and the outside maintenance work done on the International Space Station probably wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the lessons and experiences learned from Skylab.

This would be a great LEGO Ideas set for anyone interested in astronomy and/or space exploration. It would be a nice addition to any LEGO space collection of any size. It would also be a great set for getting students and non-students interested in STEM. Maybe this set will inspire more students to create their experiments to potentially have them be done in space, just like the students during the Skylab program decades ago. 

If you made it this far in my presentation, thank you very much for taking the time to view this product idea submission of mine. I hope this was fascinating for you.
If you like this idea, please hit that support button and share this with your friends and family. 

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