It remains in this positionwith its TACS inhibitedand engineers
are continuingtomonitor Skylab and to periodicallytransmitminor
correctionsto the onboard computerwhich is maintaining the position.
Skylab was launchedMay 15, 1973, and was manned during three
missions by three differentastronaut crews. The last crew departed
Skylab February8, 1974, at an altitudeof 445 km (276 statute miles).
Skylab presentlyis 389 km (242 statute miles) above Earth.
At the time the final crew departed,NASA estimated that the
orbitingorkshop wold remain in space until 1983 prmitting ample
opportunitiesto reach it on Space Shuttle missions. However,
since that time the orbit has decreasedat a higher-than-anticipated
rate. Contributingto the more rapid rate of descent is an increase
in atmosphericdrag caused by heavier sunspotactivity than had
June 19, 1978