Today’s Google Doodle celebrates industrial design legend Raymond Loewy. You may not know his name, but odds are you see his work — daily. NASA turned to Loewy in the late 60s to help design the first long-duration spacecraft, Skylab. Lowey actually considered his ‘habitability studies’ for Skylab to be the most important work of his entire career.
Assisted by a substantial design team, he created a place where astronauts could live and work with some creature comforts. Lowey wanted to promote sociability and a degree of privacy for the crews who would spend months on board. Here are a few of the key factors he advocated for on Skylab:
• Each astronaut should be allowed eight hours of solitude daily. (this concept led to the first private rooms in a spacecraft)
• Astronauts would be secured for meals facing each other, in a triangular layout. There were three crew members, and Loewy’s layout prevented any hierarchical table-seating issues that could cause tension.
• Partitions would be smooth and flush to facilitate cleanup after the inevitable bouts of space sickness.
The Skylab 1G Trainer was also the first exhibit ever delivered to Space Center Houston. In fact, the training article was so large, the building had to be built around it! Displayed in the horizontal position, guests can walk through it and get a detailed look at the thoughtful design that went into the station.
For more information, check out Joson Torchinsky’s excellent blog on the development of Skylab