Skylab crash in Esperance, 38 years ago to the day

Today marks 38 years since the infamous crash landing of the Skylab space station put Esperance on the map and in international headlines.

According to Esperance Museum, the science and engineering lab was in orbit for seven years before it went tumbling out of control towards the planet’s surface.

NASA realised the craft was breaking up but were unable to control its descent, or pinpoint where it would land.

This caused worldwide panic, and excitement, as to where exactly the craft would crash.

On July 11, US space officials tried to control Skylab’s unpredictable descent, hoping it would fall safely into the Atlantic Ocean.

Just after midnight on July 12, the doomed spacecraft crossed the Indian Ocean heading towards Esperance, leaving a trail of debris as it began breaking up.

Pieces of Skylab debris, large and small, were found scattered over the Esperance townsite and farming areas.

A large piece of the space station was found by the Grewar family after it fell on their farming property East of Norseman.

After the incident, the Shire of Esperance had a cheeky jab at NASA by issuing a $400 littering fine for scattering debris across the region.

The fine went unpaid until 2003 when a Californian radio DJ and his listeners raised funds to pay off the fine to the shire.

Since the crash, NASA has not been reported littering in the Shire of Esperance.