Part of Skylab 4’s mission objective was to study how astronauts could cope with extended time living in space. The mission dealt with diet, exercise to prevent muscle loss, and other issues associated with prolonged weightlessness. The astronauts on the mission -- Gerald Carr, William Pogue, and Edward Gibson -- faced a grueling schedule for the 84-day mission. And one day in December 1973, the astronauts just decided to take a day off. They blacked out communication with Mission Control and spent the day relaxing and taking in the spectacular views. That got NASA's attention, and a reduced workload and more autonomy for the astronauts was soon agreed upon.
Ground Control to Skylab 4:
- NASA’s original plan called for 6,051 work hours shared among the three men -- basically a 24-hour schedule.
- Although the episode has been called a “mutiny,” it wasn’t, really. But it did force NASA to reconsider the treatment of astronaut crews.
- “NASA treated the crew as expendable instruments of its schedule,” wrote Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times. “But Skylab 4 showed that when push came to shove, the astronauts had all the control in their own hands.”