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The resourcefulness of NASA’s engineers and Skylab’s first crew helped save the space station from near disaster. Now, as the station’s second crew settles into their fifty-nine day mission, another kind of crisis is about to threaten Skylab—one that has nothing to do with the hazards of space travel.

In the fall of 1973, the United States is struggling. Gas prices are skyrocketing thanks to an oil embargo. The Vietnam War is dragging on, costing thousands of American lives and hundreds of millions of dollars. In the White House, Richard Nixon’s presidency is hanging by a thread, as details of the Watergate scandal leak out. 

Against this backdrop, public interest in the U.S. space program is waning — and with it, Congress’s will to continue funding it. Now, faced with deep budget cuts, NASA may have no choice but to bring its space station program to a premature end.


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