Science: Skylab: The $2.5 Billion Salvage

"Skylab 1 is the last Skylab. It's also the first Skylab. So we do not have the maturity behind the hardware that Apollo had. We fully expect that some problems will come up and bite us."

—Skylab Program Director William Schneider at a pre-launch briefing.

SCHNEIDER'S words proved more grimly prophetic than he could have imagined. Indeed, for a few days last week, it appeared that the failure of an essential protective shield shortly after launch had touched off a chain of events that would result in disaster for the entire $2.5 billion program. But...

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