41 years ago… Skylab was Falling!!!

On July 12, 1979, Skylab was falling back to the earth. I blogged this a couple of years ago…but today is the anniversary.

In 1979 I was twelve and hearing the news that a space workstation named Skylab was falling to earth. It was exciting for me…I was hoping that a piece of it would fall near so I could touch something that had been flying through space.

That didn’t happen because unless I was Australian I was not going to see any debris. In school, our science teacher went over the event and I do remember people wearing Skylab t-shirts, hats, and buttons.

Watching the news…there were some people panicking and…some people partying. This is from Newsweek in 1979

In various parts of the country, wags painted X’s on their neighbors’ roofs or sported T-shirts with targets on the back. Entrepreneurs sold plastic helmets and Skylab survival kits compete with bags for collecting stray parts of the spacecraft and letters suing NASA for damages. “I don’t know how much we’re making, but we’re having fun,” said Steven Danzig, 25, of Bloomington, Ind., who sold more than 20,000 such kits. In Washington, a bar called Mr. Smith’s sold a concoction dubbed the Chicken Little Special.

Around the U.S., there were Skylab parties to coincide with the crash, and betting pools on precisely when or where the debris would come streaking back to earth.


Skylab was designed to go up but not come back down. It was launched in 1973 and was occupied for almost 24 weeks. There was a lot of time and money spent on how to get it up there but not much time on how to get it down. It only had a 9-year life span, to begin with. In 1979 it was clear that Skylab was rapidly descending orbit.

On July 12, 1979, Skylab came back to earth in the Indian Ocean and in Western Australia. No one was injured by the falling debris.

The San Francisco Examiner offered a $10,000 reward for anyone bringing a part of Skylab to their office. They knew it wasn’t going to hit America so it was a safe bet they would not have to pay…but Stan Thornton…an Australian truck driver heard about the reward, grabbed a piece of debris, and jumped on a plane to San Francisco and got the reward.

stan thornton.jpg
Stan Thornton collecting his $10.000





Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

26 thoughts on “41 years ago… Skylab was Falling!!!”

  1. Badfinger20

    interesting post. Reminded me of the nuclear bomb drills I had in grammar school when we where instructed to sit under our desks supposedly to protect ourselves from a nuclear bomb that would have melted us under our desks.
    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will HAVE to watch that man…thanks! I remember it very well…we were all hoping it would hit the school

      The CD post is coming tonight


  2. I remember the Skylab thing but, don’t remember t-shirts or parties. It was summertime so, no kids at school wearing any shirts or hats. I didn’t remember that it fell in Australia.

    Heh. Yeah. Skylab hats would work about as well as the “duck & cover” nuclear scare crap and the masks that the zombies are wearing, now. Funny how hysteria keeps repeating itself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember the new stations showing parties…we were too young to be at them.
      I love the hats I would would to have one now! I bet not many survived…they were pitched.
      Duck and Cover while you melt!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. For some reason, I don’t remember all of the gimmicky stuff. I remember it was falling, and that it ended up landing about as far from me as it could have. It’s bewildering that they didn’t plan for bringing it back down.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If I remember it right…they planned on it burning up before it got here…well that didn’t happen. I just remember all of our class at recess looking up…hoping.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Frankly, I don’t recall Skylab at all. While my memory can be spotty, this makes me wonder whether the incident was more of an afterthought in Germany where I was still living at the time as a 13-year-old.

    Obviously, there were no Internet and social media back then, which may be part of the explanation. Moreover, my consumption of news through the newspaper and TV and radio newscasts was probably still relatively limited at the time.

    While it doesn’t surprise me people in the U.S. came up with ideas related to the incident, I think it’s fair to say Skylab helmets and T-shirts are concepts that would be very hard to imagine in Germany.

    Liked by 1 person

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