(23 Dec. 1973) – Astronaut Gerald P. Carr, commander of the Skylab 4 mission, flies the Astronaut Maneuvering Equipment M509 Experiment in the forward compartment of the Orbital Workshop of the Skylab space station in Earth orbit. This picture was taken with a hand-held 35mm Nikon camera on the 30th day of the 84-day Skylab 4 mission. The M509 experiment consists of two jet-powered astronaut-maneuvering units, a back-mounted, hand-controlled unit called the automatically stabilized maneuvering unit (ASMU), and a hand-held maneuvering unit (HHMU). Carr is holding the HHMU in his right hand. The M509 objectives are to: demonstrate AMU flying qualities and piloting capability; test and evaluate system response; and relate the data and experience gained to ground-based analysis, future AMU design requirements and projected extravehicular activity. The OWS forward compartment in which the M509 exercise was held is about 22 feet in diameter and 19 feet from top to bottom. The hatchway leading to the Airlock Module is partially visible behind Carr. Photo credit: NASA
I was fortunate enough to attend the USSRC’s Skylab Ball in 2013, which was attended by all eight surviving Skylab astronauts. They all gave speeches, and Skylab 4’s Bill Pogue joked that his crew was kept so busy by Mission Control “that they made us work both on Thanksgiving AND Christmas!” On Christmas Day 1973, he and mission commander Jerry Carr made a seven-hour spacewalk, which involved photographing the comet Kohoutek.
An intrepid NASA photographer said to himself, one day in the early 1970s, “The day is mine! I will make everyone pose for their official NASA photo with a dated 70s background, so that everyone will look tacky in their picture!”
But then Jerry Carr arrived and showed everyone who’s boss.