bill pogue


NASA caption to the top photo:

“This photograph is an illustration of the humorous side of the Skylab 3 crew. This dummy was left behind in the Skylab space station by the Skylab 3 crew to be found by the Skylab 4 crew. The dummy is dressed in a flight suit and placed in the Lower Body Negative Pressure Device. The name tag indicates that it represents Gerald P. Carr, Skylab 4 commander…in the background is a partial view of the dummy for William R. Pogue, Skylab 4 pilot, propped upon the bicycle ergometer (in the bottom photo). The dummy representing Edward G. Gibson, Skylab science pilot, was left in the waste compartment. Astronauts Alan L. Bean, Owen K. Garriott and Jack R. Lousma were the Skylab 3 crewmen.”

Well, this isn’t terrifying.

“Guess what book I’m ordering?” I said to a group of fellow third-graders, pointing to an item in my Scholastic Book catalog. “This one. How Do You Go To The Bathroom In Space?

One girl looked disgusted. “That’s gross!

“No it’s not!” I said. “It’s funny!” To be honest, I had zero interest in space or astronomy.  But to me, buying a book with a bathroom joke in the title - and not having someone yell at you for it - was living on the edge in its purest form. (How did the author, “William R. Pogue, Astronaut,” not get in trouble for publishing this? I couldn’t believe it.)

The book eventually arrived, and as I started reading it, I became hooked. Yes, I did learn how astronauts went to the bathroom in space. (Spoiler alert: It’s complicated.) But I also learned so much more. The book opened my eyes to a world that I had never thought about. How do astronauts sleep, and eat, and relax? How far away is the nearest star? Why do astronauts float around in space? Judging by my well-worn copy - which I still have - I must have spent a lot of time with that book. It provided the foundation for everything I knew about space.

In January 2013, when I was listening to the eight surviving Skylab astronauts speak to kids at Space Camp, I suddenly realized: The writer of that book, the man who had inspired me so many years ago, was now on that stage and reaching out to an entire new generation of kids. It felt like I had come full circle.

RIP Bill Pogue - Thunderbirds pilot, Skylab 4 astronaut, and the man who, for me, started it all.


On July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 crew blasted off and four days later opened the door of the lunar module and Neil Armstrong stepped out onto the lunar surface.  Armstrong’s radio back to Earth that his was ‘one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ became instantly one of the most quoted and known phrases uttered in the name of science.  The Apollo program was started less than a decade earlier with success following success.  Named by then NASA Director Abe Silverstein (who later said it was like naming his baby) after the Ancient Greek god known for knowledge and who was represented as a flaming chariot shooting across the sky.  Hats off today to Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins.  All born in 1930 and still healthy and looking to the skies.  

Thanks also to the flight crew:


  • Charlie Duke, Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM)
  • Ronald Evans (CAPCOM)
  • Owen K. Garriott (CAPCOM)
  • Don L. Lind (CAPCOM)
  • Ken Mattingly (CAPCOM)
  • Bruce McCandless II (CAPCOM)
  • Harrison Schmitt (CAPCOM)
  • Bill Pogue
  • Jack Swigert


  • Cliff Charlesworth (Green Team), launch andEVA
  • Gene Kranz(White Team), lunar landing
  • Glynn Lunney(Black Team), lunar ascent

All images courtesy NASA, used with permission and in the public domain.  Please copy and share!


The first stage of SA-515 sits outside the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 12, 2015.

S-1C-15 would have been part of the Apollo 19 mission, which would have sent Fred Haise, Bill Pogue and Gerald Carr to the Hyginus rille region of the Moon.

When the missions of Apollos 18, 19 and 20 were cancelled in 1970, S-1C-15  was undergoing testing at the Mississippi Test Facility, now Stennis Space Center. The booster returned to Michoud, where it has been on display ever since.

A recent kickstarter campaign sets out to relocate the booster from Michoud to the INFINITY Science Center in Mississippi. INFINITY is the official visitor center for Stennis, and is located along I-10 outside the base.

Back the Booster” will see restoration of S-IC-15 as well as barge transport to Stennis, using the same route the stages took back during the Apollo program. The stage will then be driven seven miles to INFINITY, where it will be placed outside the facility parallel to the interstate,

More information on the Kickstarter campaign here.

Watch on


The story of the three missions and the nine astronauts who occupied Skylab.