Skylab 4

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The Skylab 4 command module on display at the National Air and Space Museum.

Skylab 4 (also SL-4 and SLM-3) was the third manned Skylab mission and placed the third and final crew aboard the first American space station. The mission started on November 16, 1973 with the launch of three astronauts on a Saturn IB rocket from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida and lasted 84 days, one hour and 16 minutes. A total of 6,051 astronaut-utilization hours were tallied by Skylab 4 astronauts performing scientific experiments in the areas of medical activities, solar observations, Earth resources, observation of the Comet Kohoutek and other experiments.


  • The Skylab 4 experience raises a number of issues. The first is identifying an optimal balance between work and nonwork activities for missions of varying lengths. To reduce the threat of overprogramming, mission planners and managers, first, might maintain a high degree of sensitivity to the socioemotional requirements of prolonged space flights. Second, planners and managers might incorporate principles or organizational self-design by further involving experienced astronauts in the planning of tasks and activities and by incorporating scheduling flexibility so that crews can readily modify their timetables on the basis of conditions encountered in space. Third, it might prove useful to conduct a path analysis of attitudes toward supplies, equipment, and living conditions on the one hand, and attitudes toward mission planners and managers on the other. It is not clear whether opinions regarding supplies and equipment are causes of, or symptoms of, spacecrew/mission-control conflicts.

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