Two years after Apollo 11, and whilst man was still landing on the moon, I came into the world. 54 weeks after the events of Apollo 13 to be more precise 🙂 Growing up with the tail end of the great Apollo program we were all looking forward to the next step. Habitation on the moon and Hilton hotels in orbit. Think 2001 and you have the idea.
We were also told that man would be on the way to Mars by the end of the century. However, that was Nixon’s claim and we all know what happened to him in the end.
After the race to the moon was won, the American public lost enthusiasm for moving onwards to the next step. It was costing a huge amount of money to fly 3 men so far. Why did we need to do it as the race was won? The Ruskies were vanquished!
NASA was at a low. They needed something to re-ignite the imagination of the public. They had some spare bits of Apollo rockets that wouldn’t go to the moon. Why not retro-fit them to be s space station. Skylab was born. Using parts that were designed to be full of fuel and building an environment that could be habitable for a long period of time. In this case that was 90 days.
Whilst Skylab was orbiting, NASA was also designing a re-usable spaceplane. Cutting a huge amount of the cost of launching people into space. Not only that, it could carry huge weights into orbit. Be that a spy satellite or a piece of a space station. The plan was to make space quick and easy. With a planned two week turnaround.
Unfortunately, the program had delays and missed one of its early missions. Give Skylab more life.
Now even the Space Shuttle has been consigned to history. The new replacement is closer to what NASA built to get to the moon and not a re-usable method of getting things into space. This being the Space Launch System, SLS. I think of it as Son of Apollo. Also called Orion.