On the Wikipedia page it is written that SkyLab's reentry began at 16:37 UTC on July 11, 1979. But neither on the page nor in the source is it written how high the Skylab workshop started disintegrating. It is written that at 148 km (92 mi) the workshop's alignment got adjusted one last time for reentry. Do we have any detailed record(s) of SkyLab's descent?


1 Answer 1


There's a detailed reconstruction in NASA Technical Memorandum 78308 Skylab Orbital Lifetime Prediction and Decay Analysis

The assumed Skylab breakup scenario was as follows:

  • The OWS SAS array (aerodynamically) off at 62 nmi.
  • The ATM separates from the remaining OWS at 54 nmi.
  • ATM SAS arrays separate from the vehicle between 54 to 50 nmi
  • ATM and OWS breakup at 42 nmi

I believe the use of the word "assumed" means that this is what they took to happen when reconstructing the trajectory.


  • ATM Apollo Telescope Mount
  • nmi Nautical Miles
  • OWS Orbital Workshop
  • SAS Solar Array System
  • $\begingroup$ @RussellBorogove thanks for the edit. ntrs changed their interface and I was a bit lost. $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2020 at 17:15
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    $\begingroup$ nmi? Just to clarify. $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2020 at 20:50
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @OscarLanzi "nmi" is a funny way to disambiguate nautical miles from nanometers, and it's necessary because NASA learned the expensive way to be 105% clear about the units of measurement. $\endgroup$
    – TooTea
    Aug 10, 2020 at 8:47
  • $\begingroup$ @OscarLanzi Yeah, I was thinking "nanomiles"? $\endgroup$
    – CJ Dennis
    Aug 10, 2020 at 9:16
  • $\begingroup$ To within an order of magnitude, a bacterium is about a nanomile in diameter. $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2020 at 14:38

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