Astronauts Charles Conrad and Joseph Kerwin have been congratulated by President Nixon on Thursday's hazardous space walk in which they freed a jammed solar panel, ending the electrical shortage which threatened to severely curtail the U.
SV Astronauts attempting to free jammed solar panel (4 shots)
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Background: Astronauts Charles Conrad and Joseph Kerwin have been congratulated by President Nixon on Thursday's hazardous space walk in which they freed a jammed solar panel, ending the electrical shortage which threatened to severely curtail the U.S.$2,500 million (GBP1,000 million) research programme.
"On behalf of the American people," the President said, "I congratulate and commend you and your crew on the successful effort to repair the world's first proved space station. In the two weeks since you left the earth, you have more than fulfilled the prophesy of your parting words -- 'We can fix anything.'"
Skylab commander Conrad and Dr. Kerwin took three hours to cut away the remnants of the space station's heat shield which had prevented the solar panel from deploying. The shield tore off at launch from Cape Kennedy on 14 May and the astronauts have had to curtail experiments and cut down on hot meals to conserve electricity.
The freed solar panel immediately began feeding power into Skylab's storage batteries.
SYNOPSIS: The multi-million dollar Skylab research programme, threatened by a severe shortage of electricity, has been saved by astronauts Charles Conrad and Joseph Kerwin. The two men undertook a hazardous in-space repair mission on Thursday to free a jammed solar panel.
Skylab had been on half power since launching on the fourteenth of May, when the space station's heat shield tore off. One of Skylab's three solar panes was lost and another prevented from deploying by the accident. Experiments had to be curtailed and even the astronauts' hot meals were rationed to conserve electricity.
Immediately after the three-hour repair mission, the freed solar panel began recharging Skylab's depleted storage batteries. Now most of the experiments in the programme are expected to go ahead as planned.