On This Day In Space: July 11, 1979: NASA’s abandoned Skylab space station falls to Earth (Image Credit: Space.com)
On July 11, 1979, the abandoned U.S. space station Skylab made a spectacular return to Earth as it burned up in the atmosphere, showering debris over the Indian Ocean and Western Australia.
The last crew left the space station in 1974. Over time, it began to deorbit, slowly sinking closer and closer to Earth. Skylab actually fell back to Earth a little sooner than NASA anticipated.
Strong solar storms were blamed for this premature plunge, because solar activity had warmed up Earth’s atmosphere.
As pieces of Skylab broke up in the atmosphere, residents and pilots in the area saw dozens of colorful firework-like flares.
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