Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1979

Skylab crashes to Earth

Parts of Skylab, America’s first space station, come crashing down on Australia and into the Indian Ocean five years after the last manned Skylab mission ended. No one was injured.

Launched in 1973, Skylab was the world’s first successful space station. The first manned Skylab mission came two years after the Soviet Union launched Salyut 1, the world’s first space station, into orbit around the earth. However, unlike the ill-fated Salyut, which was plagued with problems, the American space station was a great success, safely housing three separate three-man crews for extended periods of time.

Originally the spent third stage of a Saturn 5 moon rocket, the cylindrical space station was 118 feet tall, weighed 77 tons, and carried the most varied assortment of experimental equipment ever assembled in a single spacecraft to that date. The crews of Skylab spent more than 700 hours observing the sun and brought home more than 175,000 solar pictures. They also provided important information about the biological effects of living in space for prolonged periods of time.

Five years after the last Skylab mission, the space station’s orbit began to deteriorate–earlier than was anticipated–because of unexpectedly high sunspot activity. On July 11, 1979, Skylab made a spectacular return to earth, breaking up in the atmosphere and showering burning debris over the Indian Ocean and Australia.

Tags
terms:
Space

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

First Quaker colonists land at Boston

Ann Austin and Mary Fisher, two Englishwomen, become the first Quakers to immigrate to the American colonies when the ship carrying them lands at Boston in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The pair came from Barbados, where Quakers had established a center for missionary work. The ...read more

Aaron Burr slays Alexander Hamilton in duel

In a duel held in Weehawken, New Jersey, Vice President Aaron Burr fatally shoots his long-time political antagonist Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, a leading Federalist and the chief architect of America’s political economy, died the following day. Alexander Hamilton, born on the ...read more

Babe Ruth makes MLB debut

On July 11, 1914, in his major league debut, George Herman “Babe” Ruth pitches seven strong innings to lead the Boston Red Sox over the Cleveland Indians, 4-3. George Herman Ruth was born February 6, 1895, in Baltimore, Maryland, where his father worked as a saloon keeper on the ...read more

John Quincy Adams is born

On this day in 1767, John Quincy Adams, son of the second U.S. president, John Adams, is born in Braintree, Massachusetts. John Quincy Adams inherited his father’s passion for politics. He accompanied his father on diplomatic missions from the time he was 14 and entered the ...read more

British evacuate Savannah, Georgia

On this day in 1782, British Royal Governor Sir James Wright, along with several civil officials and military officers, flee the city of Savannah, Georgia, and head to Charleston, South Carolina. As part of the British evacuation, a group consisting of British regulars led by ...read more