Skylab was a United States space station launched and operated by NASA, and occupied for about 24 weeks between May 1973 and February 1974 – the only space station the U.S. has operated exclusively. In 1979 it fell back to Earth amid huge worldwide media attention. Skylab included a workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems necessary for crew survival and scientific experiments. It was launched unmanned by a modified Saturn V rocket, with a weight of 170,000 pounds (77,000 kg). Lifting Skylab into low earth orbit was the final mission and launch of a Saturn V rocket (famous for carrying the manned Moon landing missions). Three missions delivered three-astronaut crews in the Apollo command and service module (Apollo CSM), launched by the smaller Saturn IB rocket. For the final two manned missions to Skylab, a backup Apollo CSM/Saturn IB was assembled and made ready in case an in-orbit rescue mission was needed, but this backup vehicle was never flown.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. NASA have many launch facilities but most are inactive. The most commonly used pad will be LC-39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.