This T-shirt of the Month is dedicated to what has been described as the first strike in space. In December 1973, the workers on the Skylab 4 space station had been set a punishing schedule, and mission commander Jerry Carr had argued that “We would never work 16 hours a day for 84 straight days on the ground, and we should not be expected to do it here in space.” Pilot William Pogue complained that they were so overworked “There is no way [they could] do a professional job”, and for their first month they had to work through their days off. Carr eventually sent a wire stating: “We need more time to rest. We need a schedule that is not so packed.” Pogue said they wanted to have more time for “studying the stars, the Earth below, and ourselves”. Ground control began describing the crew as “lethargic and negative”.In late December the crew reportedly lost radio contact with mission control for a period of time. Science pilot Edward Gibson described this as an accident, while Carr told the New York Times in an interview that they deliberately took time off:
“We looked out the window, took showers, and did that sort of thing… We said, ‘We want time off to mess around and do anything we want'”.
Subsequently, on December 30, negotiations took place and bosses agreed for the astronauts to get more time off, and be able to schedule tasks themselves rather then be micromanaged. Carr later reported that the new arrangement “worked beautifully”, and still enabled them to finish all of their experiments.
Numerous sources including a Harvard study and the Times describe what happened as a strike, which NASA denies. But either way, it is indisputable that there was conflict on the trip between workers and management, and that while initially ground control were content to ignore complaints by the crew, soon after the reported loss of radio contact they arranged a meeting and met the demands of the astronauts.
Since the quote from mission commander Jerry Carr captures so well what we all feel at some point in our (working) lives, we asked the great illustrator, graphic designer and musician Chris W. Jany to use that quote in his take of that beautiful story from out of space. When was the last time you took time off to mess around and do any anything you want?
This month’s design can be ordered on black t-shirts as well as black hoodies.
Estimated date of shipping
February 10, 2024
Estimated delivery time
Estimated delivery time for Germany, the EU, UK and Switzerland is on average 4-7 days from the date of shipping . USA and rest of the world is 7-14 days on average from the date of shipping.