back to article Preparing for Skylab: The separate 1972 experimental mission that never left the ground

Remember Skylab? How about SMEAT? Fifty years ago, a trio of US astronauts took part in 56-day simulation of a Skylab mission that would prove critical to the success of the US's first crewed space station. SMEAT (Skylab Medical Experiment Altitude Test) took place a year after Apollo 15 launched to the Moon. It was originally …

  1. iron Silver badge

    > a Skylab mission that would prove critical to the success of the US's first crewed space station.

    That has to be the first time Skylab has ever been described as a success.

    1. Binraider Silver badge

      I don't get why all of a sudden it's a thing to bash Skylab.

      The point of building such facilities was to learn from them, and mistakes / errors / failures are part of the learning exercise.

      Shuttle had an extremely expensive collection of mistakes, errors and failures, which, if you are paying attention, learning from is an incredibly valuable source of information.

      Feynmann's reports on Challenger should be mandatory reading for anyone entering engineering. Piper Alpha very important to understand too.

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        "The point of building such facilities was to learn from them, and mistakes / errors / failures are part of the learning exercise."

        It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you’re attempting can’t be done.

        Sir Terry Pratchet

      2. jake Silver badge

        "I don't get why all of a sudden it's a thing to bash Skylab."

        It's what today's kids do, haven't you noticed? It would seem that anything that happened prior to roughly 2008 was a useless waste of time, and therefor not worth learning about.

        These things are cyclic. My Grand Daughter's generation seems to be actually showing an interest in science basics, so there's hope, but I fear the zoomers are a lost cause.

        1. Stork Silver badge

          There are exceptions. My son aged 22 hopes to finish his masters in physics and engineering in about a year’s time.

      3. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

        The lesson to learn is how many times the manglement dont listen to the engineers.....

        Challenger being a prime example of this.

  2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Impeccable timing

    A Skylab article just as more (likely American) space junk falls on Australia!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Impeccable timing

      Look it was a big spider and this was the only way to be sure

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Day 48 boredom sets in...

    > (one member of the crew exceeded six pints)

    See title.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Day 48 boredom sets in...

      Or was consuming a lot of (smuggled in) --->

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I mostly remember…

    …Skylab from the Manic Miner level that immortalized it.

  5. AlanSh

    In one go?

    6 pints - I do hope that was over a long period - or else the guy had a seriously large bladder (or was aided by the icon here)

    1. hammarbtyp

      Re: In one go?

      I think they were taking the piss

  6. adam 40 Silver badge

    A floating ball of urine?

    I'll just leave that one there.

    1. AdmFubar

      Re: A floating ball of urine?

      at least it was relaxed and floating

      It could have been an angry ball of urine

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: A floating ball of urine?

        on the subject of floating waste products, whatever happened to the solid stuff?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: A floating ball of urine?

          "whatever happened to the solid stuff?"

          See SP-400 Skylab, Our First Space Station.

          Click on Chapter 5: The First Manned Period.

          Search on the phrase "The Skylab toilet".

          Now go back and read from chapter one ... Lots of good stuff in there.

          1. Danny 2

            Re: A floating ball of urine?

            Ta Jake,

            Genuinely appropriated.

            The section from "Defecation in space was complicated by..." to "space diets, and to Skylab workloads" is something I've been pondering a lot over the past year.

            I'd trade my best sexual experiences for a normal sized poo delivered in a normal manner, my best experiences now are in the bathroom not the bedroom. Considered a vacuum cleaner nozzle at one point but didn't want to risk a prolapse.

            I grew to hate the US children's propaganda book, "Everybody Poops" - aye, lucky wee kids can. I've been ill for the last year, various symptoms that I assumed wrongly were a disease. A teenage looking A&E doctor diagnosed, "Weakness and weight loss - muscle loss due to malnutrition. Shooting pains in your legs - lower back injury. Constipation - that's just tough shit I'm afraid."

            British doctors often become comedians.

            She didn't prescribe anything to help so I went for Guinness and prunes, the natural remedy.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: A floating ball of urine?

              Shredded wheat. A bowl a day for breakfast. More effective than prunes.

              If the doc genuinely said malnutrition and you're not paraphrasing then report that to your GP and ask for an appointment with a dietician. Bad diet and constipation are very much cause and effect but you know that, I'm sure. If you can't or won't cook properly for yourself then eat out at a proper restaurant each day but choose the healthy stuff.

              1. Danny 2

                Re: A floating ball of urine?

                Thanks for the advice AC,

                Poverty is a very complicating factor. I haven't ate at a restaurant in over twenty years and doubt I ever will again - shredded wheat would be the equivalent to a meal out.

                For decades I've eaten well. I grew some of my best food at an allotment until I was too weak to walk there recently. I'd look down at my big belly so didn't consider malnutrition until an old friend called me emaciated so I weighed myself. I am both round and skinny, the worst combination.

                I've stopped getting worse and am very slowly getting better. I've got two poverty cheques from the council / Scottish government that I haven't been able to cash, now to be sent to my phone which will help greatly. First purchase, spectacles that work! I recently got a magnifying glass and found I've been taking the wrong pills for months. I'm sure you'd advise me to take the correct medication. I see the escape route but feel / am besieged on all sides. My problems are legion and my allies are, well, wishing me well.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: A floating ball of urine?

                  Previous AC here.

                  The magnifying glass comment made me smile: it's so easy to think you're doing something right, keep doing it and never stop to re-check. At least you found out. And taking the right medication will help. (The big advantage of taking homeopathic dilutions: you can't get the dose wrong and it doesn't matter which you take!) :-)

                  Big belly and emaciated - presumably because the stomach muscles have wasted away? That is serious. So what stopped you from eating: physical illness or mental like anorexia? I don't really want to know the answer, just know that you know the answer so you know what you need to do to stick with the recovery.

                  Not much comfort, I know, but recoveries always seem endless, until suddenly they're over.

  7. Gene Cash Silver badge

    I wonder if this is why the Skylab toilet was such a good design? It's widely regarded as the best ever. I've never been able to find out what made it so particularly good, or why those design elements weren't carried over to new hardware.

  8. Ken Shabby

    Bag of piss

    We call that wine in Aus

  9. Danny 2

    What do you want from The Register?

    More of this, but with photos - or it didn't happen!

    I'd love to see a The Register channel on cable TV to record this for posterity. There's a fair chance future Britons wouldn't be able to read text beyond emojis, and video is their only record of how they got there is El Reg TV.

    How bad could it be? It'd certainly be better than 99% of the Freeview channels. It'd be more informative than BBC Click. Remember BBC Open University after midnight? I'd sit there for hours watching stuff I didn't understand just because it was interesting.

  10. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    A Bigger Bag

    "You're Gonna Need a Bigger BoatBag"

    "Shayler notes in his book that the four-pint (1.8 liter) collection bags were too small (one member of the crew exceeded six pints)..."

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like