May 14, 1973 - Skylab launches new era of space study... and toys
NASA launched Skylab from an unmanned Saturn V rocket on May 14, 1973, ushering in a new era of scientific study that continued with the Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station. Skylab was the United States' first space station that housed humans for extended periods of time.
Three crews spent more than 700 hours living aboard the vessel, bringing home more than 175,000 photos of the sun and serving as guinea pigs for study of longterm biological effects on humans in space. Skylab was also celebrated in popular culture and was featured on kids' lunchboxes, a pinball machine, comic books and the TV show, The Six Million Dollar Man. The merchandising tie-ins continued with products introduced in 2013 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its launch. Skylab lasted until 1979 when it deteriorated in orbit faster than expected. The parts that did not burn up re-entered the atmosphere and crash-landed in Australia and the Indian Ocean. Read more at space.com: Skylab Legacy: Space Station Astronauts Reflect on 40 Years of Life Off Earth