The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling! Skylab, That is…

TODAY IN HISTORY, JULY 11, 1979:

America’s first space station, Skylab, was the brain child of Werner Von Braun, the rocket scientist the U. S. had harvested from the Nazi rocket program.

Skylab had three missions through the seventies, during which the astronauts involved completed numerous experiments which advanced the space program. More missions were planned, utilizing the nascent Space Shuttle Program.

Skylab’s orbit began to deteriorate, and plans were made to boost its trajectory using the Space Shuttle or other options. Delays in the Shuttle Program made the recovery efforts untenable, and on July 11, 1979 the space station re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and broke apart…mostly. NASA managed to guide it away from populated areas…mostly. The debris fell into the Southern Indian Ocean, and onto Western Australia.

The event was a media sensation, due to a great deal of uncertainty regarding where Skylab would come down…onto your house in the mid west? The ocean? New York City? For weeks the impending doom was the subject of television specials, political cartoons, selling gimmicks, you name it. After the demise, the jurisdiction in Australia where some of the debris fell sent NASA a fine of $400 for “littering” as a joke.

The British Arrive in Australia…Again…Amy Johnson

 

Today in History, May 24, 1930:

British aviation pioneer and adventurer Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, completing an 11,000 mile solo flight from England.  She was the first woman to do so.  She made the flight in a de Havilland DH.60 Gipsy Moth biplane.

Amy Johnson went on to set several other records during the 1930’s, including flights to Moscow, Japan and South Africa.

When England entered World War II in 1939 she signed up for the Air Transport Auxiliary, flying RAF aircraft from their production sites to their airfields.  On January 5, 1941 she was conducting one of these flights when her aircraft crashed into the Thames estuary.  Despite heroic efforts by a nearby ship, she was drowned in the tragedy…her remains never recovered.  An officer on the ship who dived in to save her died a few days later as a result of his time in the freezing waters.

The circumstances of her demise are somewhat mysterious.  The initial story was her aircraft went down in bad weather, however a sailor has since come forward saying he had shot her down after she failed to respond with proper codes, believing her aircraft to be the enemy.  He stated investigating officers told him and others to remain silent.

A woman air pioneer who set amazing records and died under mysterious circumstances in WWII.  Such incredible similarities to Amelia Earhart.