Thursday, February 21, 2013

We Helped Prove Humans Could Live and Work in Space

We are just realizing Skylab’s potential
by John S.

I joined Martin Marietta’s Titan II team in 1960. I worked on six significant programs—Titan II, Dyna-Soar and Gemini ground support engineering design, Sprint and Pershing support system development and Skylab crew systems engineering, before retiring in 1974.

I most enjoyed the Skylab program. As a member of the crew systems group, I participated in crew station reviews with NASA and flight personnel. I was responsible for coordination and implementation for the MDA Neutral Buoyancy program. I logged around 245 hours in the NASA Huntsville Neutral Buoyancy Simulator maintaining the MDA mock-up and observing and reporting on astronaut tests and rehearsals.
The highpoint occurred as my wife and I observed the first Skylab launch. Superlatives fail to portray the experience of seeing the flames and steam, then sensing the rumble and roar as the sound reverberated off the Vehicle Assembly Building.

Euphoria was shattered when we learned one of the solar panels had failed to deploy. Later that day, our celebratory dinner turned into a wake with speculation on causes and remedies. The program was saved when the first crew implemented fixes during an EVA perfected in the Neutral Buoyancy Facility with assistance from Martin personnel.

During my time at Martin Marietta, I was always amazed by the excellence, which pervaded my work environment. My co-workers approached technical problems with imagination, creativity and willingness to accept unconventional solutions. I shall always be proud to have been a Lockheed Martin employee.

I most enjoyed the Skylab program.