R.I.P. Gerry Carr, the commander of the last and longest Skylab mission in the 1970s, has passed away at 88.
Carr’s first and only spaceflight was as the commander of Skylab 4 (also referred to as SL-4 or “Skylab 3” as appeared on the crew’s mission patch). The third of three crewed stays of increasing duration aboard the orbital workshop, Carr and his Skylab 4 crewmates, Ed Gibson and William “Bill” Pogue, set what was then a record spending 84 days in space.
“We proved, I think, just absolutely, positively that the human being can live in weightless environment for an extended period of time,” Carr said during a NASA oral history interview in October 2000. “But medically, we gathered the data that I think gave the Russians and other people the understanding and the courage to say, ‘Okay, we can stay up for longer periods of time.'”
The obituary at the link includes Carr’s lifelong effort to explain that the crew never “mutinied,” as the press has tried to say for decades. Instead, they spent days and repeated long communications with mission control trying to get it to understand that the crew was being overworked because NASA was micro-managing their workload from the ground. They finally made mission control recognize this, after a long public conversation. Sadly, NASA had to relearn this lesson again in the 1990s during its first long missions on the Russian Mir space station (See chapters 3 and 12 in Leaving Earth).