This episode talks about the history of 11th July which includes the Siege of the Shirakawa-den, Zheng’s expedition to the Spice Islands, the sighting of Greenland by Martin Frobisher, etc. It also features a special story of the Day Skylab Crashed into Earth.
History of 11th July takes us to the year 1156 The siege of the Shirakawa-den took place in Japan. Moreover, this is the day when Chinese fleet commander Zheng He sets sail on his first major expedition, to the Spice Islands, leading 208 vessels, including 62 treasure ships with 27,800 sailors in the year 1405. Later in the year, 1576 English Explorer Martin Frobisher sighted Greenland on this day.
Another fascinating event on this day took place in the year 1735 when Mathematical calculations found that it was on this day that Pluto moved from the ninth to the eighth most distant ‘planet’ from the Sun. However as we all know Pluto is no longer considered as a plant. Besides these another significant event on this day is Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Medal of Freedom in the year 1977.
With this I come to the feature story from the history of 11th July.
The Day Skylab Crashed to Earth
The history of 11th June in the year 1979.
It was this day when the space station enters atmosphere over Australia and disintegrates and eventually crashes in the Indian Ocean. There is a detailed report on this event by Elizabeth Hanes published by the History Channel. You can read the full article in their website I am sharing an excerpt of the report.
Excerpt of Hanes’s article
Skylab was designed as a research space station, lacking a plan for safe return to Earth due to cost concerns. In 1978, its orbit decayed rapidly, causing worries about an uncontrolled crash. NASA’s solution was to boost Skylab’s orbit using the space shuttle, extending its operational life before leaving it to orbit as space junk.
As Skylab’s crash neared in 1979, Americans, dissatisfied with the government, responded with irreverence. Skylab parties and products became popular, with events like the “Skylab Watchers and Gourmet Diners Society” and a hotel hosting a disco party in its designated “Skylab crash zone.”
In Europe and Asia, concerns over Skylab’s re-entry led to safety measures. People outside the predicted debris footprint worried about the impact, influenced by a previous satellite crash. Worried holidaymakers sought refuge in caves, and Brussels planned air raid sirens in case of wreckage in Belgium.
An Australian teenager capitalized on the Skylab crash. American newspapers proposed “Skylab insurance,” and the San Francisco Examiner offered a $10,000 prize for delivering debris. Hearing about it, Stan Thornton collected fragments that hit his house, flew to the Examiner’s office, and claimed the reward.
The largest Skylab wreckage pieces are found in the Australian outback. Unlike NASA’s strict approach to preserving artifacts, few large remnants reside in US museums. Instead, museums in southwestern Australia house items like sheet metal labeled “SKYLAB” and oxygen tank chunks.
Skylab debris ownership rules were not enforced at the time, allowing finders to keep their discoveries. Australians who found artifacts often kept them due to confiscation concerns. Small shards were encased in Lucite and sold commercially. Online auctions offer items like encased debris, toothpaste, and canned meals associated with Skylab.
That’s all for the day
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A devoted foodie with keen interest in wild life, music, cinema and travel Somashis has evolved over time . Being an enthusiastic reader he has recently started making occasional contribution to write-ups.