Skylab 4 Liftoff


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Skylab 4 Liftoff

Alternative Title

Skylab 4 Liftoff


John F. Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center
Merritt Island (Fla.)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (U.S.)
Skylab Program


The liftoff of Skylab 4 (SL-4) from Launch Pad 39B of John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Merritt Island, Florida. As Project Apollo was winding down and the final three missions (Apollo 18, Apollo 19, and Apollo 20) were canceled, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) looked for ways to repurpose launch vehicles and other equipment. Out of this, Skylab and three space science missions were born. Skylab was conceived by famed rocket designer, Wernher von Braun (1912-1977), to use an unused upper-stage fuel tank and convert it to an orbital laboratory. This was necessitated by NASA's budget being slashed. With the tank becoming the basis of the space station, NASA added solar arrays, a docking adapter, and a space observatory. The Skylab missions were constituted of one mission to put the station in space (Skylab 1), using a modified and last Saturn V to launch, and three crewed missions (Skylab 2, Skylab 3, and Skylab 4) to occupy the lab and perform science, using the smaller Saturn IB booster to launch the three astronaut crews. When launched on May 14, 1973, the station encountered problems immediately. A micrometeoroid shield prematurely deployed and tore off one of the two main solar arrays. NASA engineers went to work and were able to save Skylab and the three crewed missions. Each of the subsequent missions set what were then endurance records for living in space and conducted substantial space science experiments. NASA tried to keep Skylab in orbit after SL-4 and until the Space Shuttle could boast its orbit, but with a decaying orbit, it crashed on July 11, 1979. Skylab 4 was launched from Launch Complex 39B on November 16, 1973, using what was jokingly referred to as a "milk stool" to adapt the launcher to the smaller Saturn IB booster. SL-4's crew consisted of Mission Commander Gerald P. Carr (1932-), Command Module Pilot William R. Pogue (1930-2014), and Science Pilot Edward Gibson (1936-). The mission set a then endurance record of more than 84 days in space.


Original black and white photographic prints, November 16, 1973: Larry Summers Collection.

Date Created



Is Format Of

Digital reproduction of original black and white photographic prints, November 16, 1973.

Is Part Of

Florida Space Coast History Collection, RICHES of Central Florida.




94 KB
87.6 KB


2 black and white photographic prints


Still Image


Launch Pad 39B, John F. Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Florida

Accrual Method



History Teacher
Civics/Government Teacher
Geography Teacher

Rights Holder

Copyright to this resource is held by Larry Summers and is provided here by RICHES of Central Florida for educational purposes only.


Michlowitz, Robert
Cepero, Laura

Digital Collection

External Reference

"Skylab, Birth of the Modern Space Station: Part I - The History of Sky | NASA." National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Accessed August 12.
"Skylab, Our First Space Station - ch2." 2015. SP-400 NASA - Skylab, Our First Space Station. Accessed September 25.
Howell, Elizabeth. 2013. "Skylab: First U.S. Space Station." February 1.

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

2 black and white photographic prints


“Skylab 4 Liftoff,” RICHES, accessed July 18, 2024,