KARIMNAGAR: July 12 is a dark day for many in Karimnagar. Nearly forty years back, on July 11 and 12, 1979, there were reports that Skylab, America’s first space station and one of the world’s most successful orbital platforms, would be crashing down on Earth at an undetermined location. At the time, the rumours also stated that Skylab would fall particularly on Karimnagar district.
The Skylab was America’s first space station launched on May 14, 1973. It gathered tons of data about the Earth’s atmosphere and performed some of the first in-depth studies of the Sun. While NASA could not specify when or where Skylab would come down, people around the globe started to fear even though the space station contained no radioactive components. People in India, especially in Karimnagar district didn’t take things quite so lightly.
The news about its crashing had spawned some real fear among the people of district.
Some strange incidents took place across the district just in case the enormous satellite happened to land on them or their property.
Some people moved to other areas leaving their property; some sold their property for cheap, some went to temples at distant places and some hid their wealth in the wells at the backyard of their houses.
P. R. Swamy, a retired employee from the health department who resides at Kaman said that many rich people and businessmen of the district had gone to Tirupati and Kashi thinking that those two were safe places and God would save them.
Some of them hid their wealth in the wells and some spent all the money they had saved for their enjoyment since they feared that lives would come to an end soon.
While some other people sold their property and cattle at a low cost and moved to other areas, he added.
J. Sambaiah, a farmer who resides at Malyal mandal said that he along with other villagers sold their cattle at a low price to the people of other districts after coming to know that everyone in the district were going to die with Skylab falling on the district.
“We even tried to sell our fields, but no one came forward to purchase them”, he added.
Rajesham, a coal mine worker of Godavarikani said that hearing about the news of Skylab falling on the Karimnagar district, he rushed to the Karimnagar town where his sister was residing with her four children and took them to his native place of Chityal of Warangal district.
R. Srinivas Rao, a retired lecturer said that on July 11, 1979, with Skylab rapidly descending from orbit, engineers fired the station’s booster rockets hoping that they would bring it down in the Indian Ocean.
But, the space station came back to earth on July 12, 1979 in the early morning hours, with most of it either burning up in the atmosphere or plunging into the Indian Ocean.
Some pieces were scattered across Australia, but no one on the ground was hit and no property damage was reported....