Skylab crash in Esperance, 39th anniversary

Esperance made international news 39 years ago on July 12, 1979 when the Skylab space station crashed.

The lab was in orbit for seven years before it crashed towards earth.

NASA were unable to control its descent and were unable to determine where it would land. 

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.

Debris was scattered across the Esperance town and in surrounding farming areas.

The Grewar family found a large piece of the station which fell on their farming property East of Norseman. 

Retired Esperance builder Robert McCracken recalled his experiences of “Skylab’s fiery return”.

“As the fateful day approached, ‘Skylab watches’ parties were held throughout the US,” he wrote.

“When you realise that it was a 70 tonnes of red hot shrapnel Esperance could have been wiped off the map, it was more luck than good judgement.”