1970–1979: Skylab—NASA Dips its Toe
In March 1970, the Skylab project received official approval by President Nixon when he referred to it during a speech about America’s goals in space for the coming decade and beyond. However, this was a difficult time for NASA, they had achieved President Kennedy’s challenge of landing a man on the moon before 1970, indeed they had done it twice with Apollo 11 and 12, and now they faced the inevitable post-success anticlimax, and the people of the United States lost interest. The Soviet threat to the moon landings had failed to materialize, and the risks of further moon landings were all too clearly demonstrated during the flight of Apollo 13 in April 1970. NASA’s budget had been slowly reducing for years now, and finally they had to cut flights: two Apollo missions were deleted from the program that would now end with Apollo 17 in 1972. It was at this time that the first hint of co-operation with the Soviets became apparent, with a suggested docking of a Soyuz with the Skylab workshop. This was at a time, of course, when the Soviet’s plans for their Salyut stations was completely unknown to the Americans until Salyut l’s launch in 1971. NASA then suggested that perhaps an Apollo CSM could dock with a Salyut station, but the Soviets were not keen on this idea, and NASA had already decided that a Soyuz docking with Skylab was also not an option any longer. These discussions continued, and eventually an Apollo-Soyuz docking was suggested, and this would lead to the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) of 1975.
KeywordsUnited States Aerospace Technology Difficult Time Test Project Official Approval
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