December 28, 1974: The incredible mutiny of the Skylab 4 space station

In France, as in the United States, there is a right to strike, which workers can benefit from in order to assert their poor working conditions. But there are strikes that go down in history much more than others!

In 1974, during the Skylab 4 mission, the crew members, consisting of Gerald P. Garr, Edward G. Gibson and William R. Pogue, used their right to strike to alert NASA about their working conditions. This mutiny is called “Skylab” mutiny “and it allowed NASA to take into account the demands of the astronauts: A little break did not hurt anyone!

The space mutiny

On December 28, 1974, the crew of the Skylab mission decided to start a mutiny. At the time, NASA asked them to work around 6,000 hours during their operation. Unload, organize and save hundreds of objects needed for the project. Believing that the work overload was too important, they decided to go on strike! No banners or demonstrations, of course, just a button!

The one on the radio that was cut off for 24 hours in a row … 24 hours to relax, rest and think about something other than your mission. After communication with Earth was restored, the mission was able to continue, but for the astronauts this was a cornerstone!

The Skylab 4 mission

This mission, which began on November 16, 1973, lasted 84 days and required 6,051 man hours. Scientific experiments in the field of solar observation and medicine should mainly be carried out. The workload was so heavy that the astronauts were exhausted day in and day out, adding to the stress and the possibility of mistakes.

Skylab crew members William R. Pogue and Gerald P. Carr (left) / Skylab 4 captain Gerald P. Carr fly M509 astronaut maneuvering equipment (right) – Photo credit: Wikipedia

They alarmed, but NASA felt they weren’t complaining about much … by turning off the radio, paradoxically, they could only be heard! The team stayed on Earth and had no way of reaching them. They had to wait for the astronauts to make up their minds.

And they won their case!

When they returned from their 24-hour space vacation, NASA seemed more willing to listen to them. So now they could take a meal break every day … and full meals for that matter! And the timed task list became a task list in a certain time.

Left to right: Carr, Gibson and Pogue. Wikipedia photo credit

But the crew then became masters of their time! Thanks to these new measures, and ultimately with fewer restrictions, the crew did more work than expected, even if they were never selected for another space mission …

It just goes to show that a one-day strike as an astronaut can sometimes have immediate positive effects. NASA’s impotence in the face of this mutiny probably made them understand that they weren’t the real masters of space!

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