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Space and Rocket Center celebrates America’s first space station with free summer events


On Sunday, July 2, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center will launch a free summer activity celebrating 50 years since the launch of Skylab. This latest session is called “Living in Space” and discusses long-duration living in space and microgravity and its effects on human’s body.

Skylab was America’s first space station, and it was the first time that American astronauts attempted to live and work in space. Skylab was a program managed in Huntsville at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

Pat Ammons is the Senior Director of Public and Media Relations at the US Space and Rocket Center. She said Sunday’s event is a great opportunity to learn about microgravity and its effects on human’s body.

“In the lessons on living in space, we’re looking at the effects of living in microgravity. That this is something that the human body has to adapt to,” she explained. “And this is a way that we began to understand what those effects were, how we could counter those affects learning about the loss of bone mass and bone density and muscle mass occurs when we're living in microgravity.”

Ammons also said Skylab was the first time that understanding about the amount of exercise astronauts must do to counter some bone mass and bone density losses. She said, this was the first opportunity where experts were able to see what microgravity for long duration would do to the human body and how it changes a lot of an individual’s physical presence in space.

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary, this discussion-based event will happen in the Discovery Theater of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, July 2 at 2:00 p.m.

“It was the beginning to understand how those things were going to be affecting us long term and how we could counter them, but also how we could learn to use that, like gravity, for a lot of science experiments,” Ammons said. “And that's one of the things that we've done a great deal of since that time: is use space exploration for particularly medical experiments to benefit humans here on Earth.”

Aside from the “Living in Space” session, the Skylab summer events will also feature a documentary and panel discussion on August 17. Ammons said the documentary is called “Saving Skylab,” and it will be looking at the damages that were called upon launching of the Skylab or whether it was damaged on when it launched aboard a Saturn five rocket to space.

She said there are many other reasons to visit the U.S. and Rocket Center these upcoming months.

“It's a great summer to come up and visit not just for the summer of Skylab events, but we also have an incredible planetarium that we encourage everyone to check out if they've not been to the rocket center in a while. We have new exhibits all the time for young people. We have a terrific hands-on engineering lab called Spark Lab and we always have activities for the whole family.”

Learn more about the events here:

Valentina Mora is a student intern at the Alabama Public Radio newsroom. She is an international student from Colombia at The University of Alabama. She is majoring in Communicative Disorders and Foreign Languages and Literature. She is part of the Blount Scholars Program and is also pursuing a minor in Music. Although she is not studying to become a journalist, Valentina enjoys reporting, interviewing and writing stories.
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