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Space History Photo: Skylab Solar Shield

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A sail-like sunshade for the Skylab Orbital Workshop is being fabricated in preparation to repair the lost shield for the 1973 launch of Skylab. (Image credit: NASA.)

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, a sail-like sunshade for possible use as a sunscreen for the Skylab Orbital Workshop (OWS) is shown being fabricated in the GE Building across the street from Johnson Space Center, Houston Texas. Three people help the seamstress feed the material through the sewing machine. The three-layered sunshade will be composed of a top layer of aluminized mylar, a middle layer of laminated nylon ripstop, and a bottom layer of thin nylon.

Working on the sunshade are from left to right: Dale Gentry, Elizabeth Gauldin, Alyene Baker, and James H. Barnett Jr. Mrs. Baker, a GE employee, operates the double needle Singer sewing machine. Barnett is head of the Crew Equipment Development Section of JSC Crew Systems Division. Mrs. Gauldin is also with the Crew Systems Division. Gentry works for GE.

The work shown here is part of the crash program underway to prepare a sunshield for Skylab to replace the orginal shield which was lost when Skylab 1 was launched on May 14, 1973. The improvised solar shield selected to be used will be carried to Earth orbit by the Skylab 2 crewman who will then deploy the reflective parasol to shade part of the OWS from the hot rays of the sun. Loss of the orginal sun shield has caused an overheating problem in the Orbital Work Shop.

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the U.S. government agency in charge of the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.