In 1966, George E. Mueller, NASA associate administrator for Manned Space Flight, produced a concept drawing of what would become "Skylab," the world's first space station. The first of three crewed Skylab mission launched May 14, 1973 – 41 years ago, today.
According to NASA, the concept drawing was created at a meeting at the Marshall Space Flight Center on August 19, 1966, and details the station's major elements. The name "Skylab" was adopted four years later.
Stylistically, this sketch could not be more different from the concept art that was drawn up for NASA's budding Shuttle Program, or the Agency's retrofuturistic depictions of city-sized space colonies. But there's an undeniable charm to Mueller's scrawls, which look about as back-of-the-envelope as these things can get without appearing on the actual reverse of an honest-to-goodness envelope. There are few things more romantic, optimistic, or exciting than the birth of a big idea. To us, this sketch embodies exactly that.