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?


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
| improve this answer | |
  • $\begingroup$ @RussellBorogove thanks for the edit. ntrs changed their interface and I was a bit lost. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Aug 9 at 17:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ nmi? Just to clarify. $\endgroup$ – Oscar Lanzi Aug 9 at 20:50
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @OscarLanzi added the acronym, thanks $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Aug 9 at 21:47
  • 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 at 8:47
  • $\begingroup$ @OscarLanzi Yeah, I was thinking "nanomiles"? $\endgroup$ – CJ Dennis Aug 10 at 9:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.