Summary

Australia
1980 (AD)
Skylab Medal
Mint: Perth Mint
Other Details: Issued to mark the re-entry and impact of the Skylab Space Station in Western Australia on 12 July 1978. Skylab is depicted in orbit over Eastern Australia on the obverse, and again on the reverse with re-entry path marked. A piece of Skylab - from its water tank - is inserted in the medal. The medal is presented in a blue case featuring another image of Skylab. The medal was issued by Kara International Pty Ltd, which had an office in Perth at that time and in 1984 published The America's Cup Cartoon Collection. The medals were advertised for sale for $345.00 each, and could be purchased directly through Kara International. The brochure stated that 'this will be the first time in world history that a Silver Medallion containing a dump of space metal has ever been issued. If fact, the Medallions are already causing enormous excitement and are being sought after by collectors and investors the world over...Skylab is the only space vehicle to remain in space for 6 years, orbit the Earth 34,981 times then return to Earth. This makes its metal extremely rare.'

Physical Description

Skylab depicted in orbet over Eastern Australia with the Pacific and North America visable; the image of Skylab is to the left of the central plug of metal from the water tank which survived the re-entry and crash. In the field right, LAUNCHED / MAY 14 1973 / RE-ENTERED / JULY 12 1979; below, SKYLAB To the left of the central plug Skylab with two lines depicting the final entry path to crash into Western Australia above the plug; to right of plug, JULY 12 / 1980; around above, THE INSERT IS A PIECE OF; below plug, skylab / AMERICA'S FIRST SPACE / STATION

Obverse Description

Skylab depicted in orbit over Eastern Australia with the Pacific and North America visable; the image of Skylab is to the left of the central plug of metal from the water tank which survived the re-entry and crash. In the field right, LAUNCHED / MAY 14 1973 / RE-ENTERED / JULY 12 1979; below, SKYLAB

Reverse Description

To the left of the central plug Skylab with two lines depicting the final entry path to crash into Western Australia above the plug; to right of plug, JULY 12 / 1980; around above, THE INSERT IS A PIECE OF; below plug, skylab / AMERICA'S FIRST SPACE / STATION

Edge Description

Plain

Significance

The Skylab space station was launched on a Saturn V rocket from the NASA Kennedy Space Center on 14 May 1973. Sixty-three seconds after liftoff, its meteoroid shield deployed inadvertently, torn off by atmospheric drag. This caused a cascade of problems, including damaging the solar array, and ultimately meant that Skylab had to operate on less than half its designed electrical system. Ground-based staff and three separate crews of astronauts worked to repair the damage, compensate for problems and utilize Skylab for research. The hours spent both in space and in space-walking exceeded all previous totals.

The work undertaken on Skylab demonstrated the effectiveness of conducting research from space. Astronauts obtained high quality solar and Earth weather data using photography and other forms of monitoring. The capability to conduct longer manned missions was conclusively demonstrated, with final crew members staying up to 84 days. Re-supply of space vehicles was also undertaken for the first time and proven effective.

Following the final phase of research Skylab was positioned into a stable attitude and its systems were shut down. It was expected that Skylab would remain in orbit eight to ten years, but in Spring 1977 it was determined that it was no longer in a stable attitude due to solar activity. Anxious calculations were made about the point of impact as it slowly wound towards Earth. On July 12 1979 Skylab impacted the surface. Its debris stretched from the Southeastern Indian Ocean across a sparsely populated section of Western Australia. No injuries were reported. Kennedy Space Centre web site http://www-pao.ksc.nasa.gov/kscpao/history/skylab/skylab-operations.htm.
-D. Tout-Smith 24/9/2003.

An information brochure and order form for the 1980 silver commemorative Skylab medallion manufactured by Kara International Pty. Ltd. is held by the State Library of Western Australia (PR9783/4-5). -D. Tout-Smith 29/12/2003.

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