Skylab Esperance

Skylab, a science and engineering laboratory, was launched into Earth’s orbit by a Saturn V rocket on 14 May 1973.

Skylab was the first space station the United States launched into orbit, and the second space station ever visited by human crew.

The 100 ton space station was in Earth’s orbit from 1973 to 1979, and was visited by crews three times in 1973 and 1974.

There was a plethora of UV astronomy experiments done during the Skylab lifetime, as well as detailed X-ray studies of the sun. It included a laboratory for studying the effects of microgravity and the Apollo Telescope Mount solar observatory.

Skylab began its final orbits on 10 July 1979.

On 11 July 1979, US space officials tried valiantly to control the tumbling space craft, hoping it would fall safely into the Atlantic Ocean.

At 12:30am on 12 July 1979, the doomed spacecraft crossed the Indian Ocean heading towards Esperance, burning and breaking up as it sped along it’s fiery path.

It rose in the southwest, a spectacular streak of colour and within two minutes before reaching the opposite horizon it had broken up into about 20 large pieces.

Over the following days, many pieces of Skylab debris, small and large, were found scattered over the Esperance townsite and farming areas. Today, a number of these valuable and historic pieces can be seen here at the Esperance Museum.

Visit the Esperance Museum to see the full Skylab display inside.