On this day in history, May 14, 1973, the United States launched it's first orbiting space station, the 85-ton "Skylab 1."
Skylab 1 was damaged only 63 seconds after its unmanned launching as its mission was threatened by the loss of its thin aluminum micrometeoroid and thermal shield.
The loss of the shield had brought the internal temperature of the Skylab to an intolerable 129 degrees Fahrenheit. The shield was ripped loose by vibration during launching.
NASA hastily concocted a solution and later in the month repaired the shield with a little help from its astronauts.
The primary objective of the $2.6 billion, eight-month Skylab mission was to produce information on man's ability to live and work for extended periods in the weightless conditions of space.
Astronauts were also assigned to full schedule of astronomical, photographic and other scientific, technical and engineering tasks to perform.