In 1979, ten years after the historic moon landing the Skylab Space Station returned to Earth with a bang. Skylab was launched in May 1972, with the help of the last Saturn V rocket. The central part of the space station was a modified Saturn S-IVB 212 altered to house crews for a short period. Three teams between 1973 and 1974 used it while they collected information about the sun and battled with the novel challenges of extended spaceflight.
The commander of the third and final crew positioned the spacecraft into an orbit which ranged between 433 and 455 kilometers (or 269 to 283) miles with the help of the Apollo CSM thrusters. An improved version of the Skylab was retired before launch and converted into a museum exhibit.
NASA engineers were hard at work on the Space Shuttle program, and initial data sets suggested that the station will maintain its trajectory for at least nine years. As NASA focused on other projects, the engineers decided that they will use the Space Shuttle to reach the station and push it onto a higher orbit. At some point, they planned to enhance it to use it at a later date.
Skylab Crashed Into Australia – How a Space Station Went Down With A Bang
When the spacecraft was launched, the primary goal was to use it to survey the Sun. However, our beloved star proved to be more active than it was anticipated, and the atmosphere of Earth started to tug it down towards the surface. The failure of an unscrewed Russian spacecraft which fell back to Earth in 1978 raised the tension among the international community.
The spacecraft didn’t feature the technology needed to reposition itself, but it was thought that it could be stabilized if the engineers managed to activate the remote controllers. The Space Shuttle project faced several delays, and the space station became harder to control as time went by.
A forced entry was planned as the team thought that the spacecraft would burn as it went through the atmosphere, but it crashed close the Perth, Australia without any casualties. A few parts were shipped back to the US, but most of them can be seen at a local museum.