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Where will Skylab fall to Earth?

The Story

After 34,981 trips around the world in six years, Skylab has done its duty and is ready to come back to Earth. At 77 tons, the research satellite is the biggest ever to fall out of orbit, but even bigger is the question of where, exactly, it will land upon re-entry. Journalists are studying orbital charts, but even the experts at NASA don't know where it will end up. As these back-to-back CBC-TV news reports show, there's a two per cent chance Skylab could break up over Canada.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: July 10, 1979
Guest(s): Richard Smith
Host: George McLean
Reporter: John Blackstone, Brian Stewart
Duration: 5:07

Did You know?

• A Saturn V rocket carried Skylab into space on May 14, 1973. It was an experimental space station that could function as a workshop for visiting astronauts, who travelled to and from it by Apollo rocket. Three crews of three men each occupied Skylab for a total of 171 days between its launch date and Feb. 8, 1974, with the third crew living in it for a record 84 days.

• Skylab offered new opportunities for studying both the Earth and the sun, as well as testing the effects of microgravity on people.


• Plans for Skylab originally called for it to remain in orbit until astronauts reaching space via the space shuttle could use it. But elevated solar activity spelled the end for Skylab, and it came plummeting to Earth before the space shuttle program got off the ground.


• In the end, most of Skylab disappeared into the Indian Ocean off the western coast of Australia, although some debris landed near the towns of Esperance and Albany in the country's southwest. A witness said: "If you can imagine a train on fire with bits burning all the way down the carriages, that's what it was like. There were golds, yellows and reds. We were damn lucky to see it."





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