The Space Station That Fell On Australia

On May 14, 1973, a modified Saturn V rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center carrying Skylab, the first space station. On July 12, 1979, Skylab reentered the earth’s atmosphere in a fiery blaze, spreading debris across the Indian Ocean and Western Australia. More than a decade later, an Australian farmer noticed that his cattle were drinking collected rainwater from a strange object. It turns out that it was a chunk of Skylab and the animals were drinking from the remains of a $2.2 billion NASA investment. The circular lid had landed with its insulated exterior to the ground, so that it’s curved shape formed a shallow dish that caught rainwater. It was seeing animals drinking at a place where there should have been no water available that led to its discovery. The piece comprises the end cap of the water tank that was torn and bent as a result of being ripped away from the rest of the tank. Skylab was the first large space object to make an uncontrolled re-entry, causing public recognition that space debris was a major international hazard.