Thursday, 11 July 2019


At around four-thirty in the afternoon universal coordinated time (plus eight hours local time) on this day in 1979, debris from NASA’s abandoned but not unsuccessful space station project Skylab that was not incinerated upon its uncontrolled re-entry landed in the Shire of Esperance on the coast of Western Australia.
Fortunately the space junk caused no injury or damage and there was a media frenzy of speculation of where and when the craft might crash-land with contests and wagers made. A few days afterwards local farmers recovered a huge oxygen tank and it was decided by show masters-of-ceremonies to display it as a prop on the stage of the Miss Universe pageant that had been scheduled for later in the month in nearby Perth—hosted by The Price is Right’s Bob Barker—whose weight combined with seventy-five contestants assembled to sing a rousting rendition of Waltzing Matilda made the dais a little structurally unstable. Fortunately no beauty contestants were harmed in this mission either. Having garnered valuable lessons from the first attempt, the US planned next for Space Station Freedom whose programme would eventual merge with the International Space Station, commissioned in 1998.