U.S. and Russia Agree to Work Together on Skylab

Published: 1973
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An overhead view of the Skylab Orbital Workshop in Earth orbit is pictured on February 8, 1974. NASA celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Space Age marked by the October 4, 1957 launch of Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite, made by the Soviet Union. (UPI Photo/NASA/FILES)

Announcer: On his last day in the United States, Brezhnev cited what had been accomplished by his trip.

Leonid Brezhnev's translator: "We came to this country anticipating that these would be responsible negotiations devoted to major questions bearing on the development of Soviet-American relations and to a search for ways in which our two nations could promote the further invigoration of the entire international atmosphere. Today, I have every reason to say that those hopes were justified. Let me say frankly that personally I am also pleased that this visit has given me an opportunity to gain some firsthand impressions of America to see some aspects of the American way of life."

Ed Karrens: Henry Kissinger replaced William Rogers as Secretary of State during the year. But because of his role as National Security Advisor, many thought Kissinger assumed the role of the Secretary even before he was officially appointed. It was Kissinger who negotiated the Vietnam peace agreement, and it was Kissinger who traveled to Peking before he was Secretary of State to set up a liaison office between China and the United States.

Secretary Henry Kissinger: "It was decided that the existing channel in Paris was inadequate and that therefore each side would establish a liaison office in the capital of the other, and then henceforth it will be possible for the United States and the Peoples Republic of China to deal with each other in the capital of the other."

Ed Karrens: The United States launched its first orbiting space station during 1973. During the year, three manned Skylab missions were performed and the space endurance records were broken on each succeeding flight.

Skylab I started out amidst a flurry of technical problems. The unmanned space station got off the ground okay, but its solar-powered wings failed to open up. When the manned crew got to the space station, they performed repair work and attached a makeshift sunshield.

Unknown Speaker: "I'll tell you where we are. We got the wig out and locked. The outboard panel and the middle panel are about out the same amount, and the third one is not quite. Now, Joe, I think before you come in, you better take a look up there and make sure that third one is clearing all the debris. It's bugging me, all right?"

Ed Karrens: The first manned Skylab mission set an endurance record of 28 days and 40 minutes in space; but more importantly, the astronauts proved that man could work in space for prolonged periods of time without any apparent damage to their physical wellbeing.

The second manned Skylab crew had company aboard their ship. They had 1,000 vinegar-gnat pupae, flies, 50 minnow eggs, 2 minnows, 6 pocket mice and 2 spiders named Arabella and Anita -- just about everything but a partridge in a pear tree. They performed experiments with the spiders and overall the menagerie fared quite well. That is, all except the spiders, who didn't care for the insects they were scheduled to eat. But Ground Control had an answer to that dilemma.

Unknown Speaker: "Tonight after your mail when you have filet mignon, we would appreciate it if you would share a small piece of red or pink meat about the size of a housefly with both Arabella and Anita. When Arabella is stationary in her cage, carefully place her piece near her legs, and carefully place Anita's portion in her... Over."

Unknown Speaker: "Okay. We'll do just that, and of course you'll want to take proper account of that in our daily tallies or caloric intake for the STP; but certainly won't mind using a couple of housefly-size pieces of my filet with Anita, especially since she is near a very large horizon at this point, as well as with Arabella."

Ed Karrens: For the astronauts, whose 59 and a half days in space traveling 26 million miles set a new endurance record, the highlight of the trip seemed to be an extraordinary spectacle of the sun. Because of an explosion on the other side of the sun, it blew a bubble about three-quarters of its own size. On another occasion, the astronauts saw the biggest and the brightest solar flare of the year.

Unknown Speaker: "The flare in progress is also classified as X1, but it appears to be bigger than anything we've seen today from the program; over."

Unknown Speaker: "Yeah, we agree with you 100% up here. It's a big daddy. Owen's even talking about aurora, for God's sake."

Unknown Speaker: "Borealis or Australis?"

Unknown Speaker: "Both simultaneously."

Ed Karrens: Skylab III, scheduled now in 1974, will set still another endurance record.

Ed Karrens: What lies beyond the solar system is a question man may never know the answer to; other worlds, other people or new mysteries, all are possible.

A spaceship called Pioneer 10 will be the first manmade object to journey beyond the solar system into new areas of the unknown. Pioneer 10 made a 22-month, 620-million-mile journey to the planet Venus. It arrived at its closest point to the planet 81,000 miles away in 1973. Close-up pictures and data will have scientists busy for months trying to solve even more of the mysteries of space, and who knows? Some day in its journey, Pioneer 10 may be sighted by other people on another planet, and they may call their local sheriff and report seeing a UFO.

That's what two men from Pascagoula, Mississippi did; but their story was more incredible: they said they not only saw the UFO, but were brought aboard the ship by the creatures that flew it.

Unknown Speaker: "I was carried to the -- to the vehicle, and inside I -- I didn't touch anything. I was -- which is -- didn't have any sensation whatsoever. And inside it was just a bright glowing light. I -- I didn't see any light fixtures of -- of any kind; it just -- just glowed inside. And then they left me for I don't know how long and I -- I -- I was just helpless; and I don't know how long I was in there. And -- and once outside I was immediately put back on the ground, and I wasn't harmed any way that I know -- know of that I … and then that's about the way it happened."

Ed Karrens: UFO sightings were quite prominent in 1973. Even the Governor of Ohio said he followed a UFO down a Michigan highway.

Well, for those of us who didn't get to see the little green men from outer space, there was Kohutek. Kohutek, called the Christmas comet, more spectacular than Halley's comet in 1910, passed within 75 million miles of the Earth. And if you didn't see it in 1973, don't hold your breath until next time: it won't be back for a million years.