Remember this map of doom/excitement?
If you remember that map and those three red orbit lines in 1979, you’ll also remember that Skylab’s demise was sooo exciting to the world. People watched and waited with baited breath. Where would the bus-sized satellite fall? Would it fall on a city? Would it fall in my own backyard?
Some folks even died of anxiety fearful that it would crush them in their house while they slept. As a small boy living with his parents in Logan City, Brisbane, I wasn’t anxious at all, I was excited. I went outside each night and stared at the sky, willing it to crash my way. I wanted a piece of Skylab wreckage all for myself!
Brisbane was in the strike zone. Look! It’s there! Skylab could’ve re-entered early and fell into my lap. All it needed was a slight miscalculation from the scientists and Skylab would drift and be mine. That second red line needn’t have been placed on the map at all.
I saw it pass by that night, two pieces tracked almost directly overhead and then disappeared over the horizon. Dammit! That was OUR track! It was supposed to fall HERE and NOW!
And so I went to bed wondering if they were wrong. Could it come by once again? Line two didn’t have to happen if I thought real hard about it.
Esperance had hit the headlines by morning and my chin soon hit my chest. It seemed that Western Australia had received what was left of the six year old space structure. Other bits were strewn from Esperance to the Nullarbor Plain. It had made it down in pieces and in my country! But in the wrong place!
Good on Australia for taking part in the excitement though.
What a time is was… for a small boy and his big hopes to get some space memorabilia!
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