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Haynes puts NASA Skylab under the microscope

New manual examines America’s first space station
2nd February 2018
Dr David Baker
Wednesday, 17 January, 2018


2nd February 2018: Extending its popular range of titles examining NASA’s most iconic spacecraft, Haynes has now released a new manual focusing on America’s first space station, Skylab.

The NASA Skylab Owners’ Workshop Manual details the entire lifespan of the orbiting laboratory, from its initial assembly using elements of various Apollo craft and its launch in 1973 using a Saturn V rocket, until its re-entry and demise in 1979. The manual offers detailed insight into the engineering and design of the space station and the working environment for the three manned missions to Skylab , as well as the science experiments and maintenance work carried out by each of the visiting three-man crews.

Skylab offered an impressive legacy for future engineering, technology and scientific applications. It hosted 12,351 man-days of space flight, which helped to examine the physiological effects of long-term weightlessness – work that would feed directly into the International Space Station project three decades later. It also collected data that helped to support early environmental awareness programmes around the finite nature of the planet’s resources. 

The manual has been written by Dr David Baker, former NASA engineer and author of 13 previous Haynes manuals. Having worked with NASA on the Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle programmes between 1965 and 1990, Dr Baker has a wealth of knowledge on the subject and offers a uniquely detailed look at Skylab.

Commenting on the book’s release, Dr David Baker said: “Skylab offered so many firsts to astronauts and scientists working on the project – from the first manoeuvrable backpacks to the longest single visit by any crew to a space station. Its pioneering story meant that it was a natural choice for the latest Haynes book.

“Skylab was not, however, a programme without problems or flaws. The manual also tells the story of the endeavours of the NASA engineers, scientists and astronauts who worked to rescue the laboratory from a series of failures. For example, one crew were assisted by Earth-based engineers to erect a new sunshade to protect the laboratory from the Sun.”

The NASA Skylab Owners’ Workshop Manual is illustrated with more than 300 images, diagrams, cutaways and charts to demonstrate the full scientific and engineering achievements and challenges of the project. 


Dr David Baker’s Top 10 facts about Skylab

1. Launched in 1974, Skylab was the world's first fully occupied space station (Russia launched Salyut 1 two years earlier but the only crew to visit it died during re-entry). 

2. Skylab had the greatest habitable volume of any space station until assembly of the International Space Station began in 1998, not exceeding Skylab in volume until well into the 21st century.

3. Skylab was the first station to carry instruments to simultaneously observe the Earth, the Sun and the stars.

4. Skylab held the record for the longest single-visit by any crew (84 days) to any space station for four years.

5. For 10 years Skylab held the record for the longest cumulative period of multiple habitation on the three supported visits (171.5 days). 

6. Skylab demonstrated for the first time the use of a self-contained manoeuvrable backpack for moving around in weightlessness.

7. Skylab was rescued from a disabled state by teams of astronauts working outside to deploy a stuck solar array and to erect a protective thermal shield torn away during launch.

8. Skylab carried two spiders in a special container, demonstrating their adaptation to weightlessness after only one failed attempt to make a web.

9. Skylab was assembled on the ground from elements of the Apollo Moon landing programme and launched by the last Saturn V – the biggest rocket ever launched into space.

10. Skylab provided the base of experience for joining with Europeans, Russians, Japanese and Canadians to build the International Space Station, now permanently occupied since 2 November 2000.


The NASA Skylab Manual is priced at £22.99 and is available from The book number is H6065. The ISBN is 9781785210655. It is published in February 2018.


About the author  

Dr David Baker worked with NASA on the Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle programmes between 1965 and 1990. He has written more than 100 books on space flight, aviation and military technology and is the former editor of Jane’s Space Directory and Jane’s Aircraft Upgrades. In 1986 he was made a member of the International Academy of Astronautics by NASA manned flight boss George Mueller and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a member of the US Air Force Association. He received the 1998 Rolls-Royce Award for Aerospace Journalist of the Year and in 2005 he was a recipient of the Arthur C Clarke Award. In October 2017 he received the American Astronautical Society’s Frederick I. Ordway III award “for a sustained excellence in space coverage, through books and articles, as well as engagement in the early US space program”. David is currently the editor of Spaceflight, the monthly space news magazine of the British Interplanetary Society, of which he is also a Fellow. He lives in East Sussex, England, with his wife Ann. 

The information on this page is supplied courtesy of Haynes Publishing, please credit accordingly if you intend to use it. For more information or to request a review copy please contact:

Max Hammond at McCann PR on +44(0)117 921 8143 or
Eleanor James at McCann PR on +44(0)117 921 8135 or
Emillie Forrest-Jones on +44(0)117 921 8129 or
or email Haynes PR

To request a review copy or high-res images contact McCann PR


Haynes Publishing has been the world's leading publisher of illustrated workshop car manuals and motorcycle manuals since 1965. In that time Haynes has evolved and so have its Manuals to now include a wide range of automotive, sport, leisure, military and lifestyle subjects. Haynes also has licenses to publish Manuals with NASA, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, Star Wars, Star Trek and others. Haynes publishing also offers its more recent car and motorcycle manuals through online subscription, Manuals Online was launched in 2010 and offers colour imagery, video and is accessible through computer or tablet via an internet connection. Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7JJ. Telephone: 01963 440635 Fax: 01963 440001 E-mail: