Skylab 3 UFO Incident
Skylab the first American space station was
launched into orbit May 14, 1973, and problem plagued from day one.
the second crew to visit, consisted of Astronauts Alan Bean, Jack
Lousma, and Owen Garriott. Tasked with everything from maintenance to
experiments both scientific and medical, they also faced a number of
crises during their short tenure (July 28, 1973, to September 25,
1973,) all of which were thankfully resolved and one occurrence of a
possible otherworldly nature which never was, an unidentified object
that followed the space lab purportedly undetected by NASA or NORAD, an
event which would become known in UFO circles as the "Skylab 3 UFO
few days before returning to Earth and while out of radio contact,
Garriott took photos of an anomalous object from Skylab’s wardroom
window. The first recorded mention of the incident was between the
astronauts and CAPCOM some four and a half hours later:
Lousma: Did you tell him about
that satellite we saw?
Bean: Yes, we saw
a great satellite. We didn’t know if we told you about it.
closest and brightest one we’ve seen.
Bean: Huge one 
seen several. It was a red one
Communicator: No, you may have told someone but it wasn’t this team. I
don’t remember hearing about it.
I guess we didn’t report it. It was reflecting in red light and
oscillating at, oh, counting its period of brightness to dimmest, about
10 seconds. It led us into sunset.  That was about three revs ago, I
think. Something like that, wasn’t it Owen? (No answer).
allusion to the anomaly took place during a debriefing on October 4,
Garriott: Do you
want to talk about that satellite?
I saw a couple of satellites that appeared like a satellite would on
Earth. I saw one that was not like one you would see on Earth, so why
don’t you mention it.
OK. About a week or 10 days before recovery and we were still waiting
for information to be supplied to us about the identification. Jack
first notices this rather large red star out the wardroom window.Upon
close examination, it was much brighter than Jupiter or any of the
other planets. It had a reddish hue to it, even though it was well
above the horizon. The light from the Sun was not passing close to the
Earth's limb at the time. We observed it for about 10 minutes prior to
sunset. It was slowly rotating because it had a variation in brightness
with a 10-seconds period. As I was saying, we observed it for about 10
minutes, until we went into darkness, and it also followed us into
darkness about 5-seconds later. From the 5 to 10 second delay in its
disappearance we surmised that it was not more than 30 to 50 nautical
miles (35 to 58 statute miles or 56 to 93 km) from our location. From
its original position in the wardroom window, it did not move more than
10 or 20 degrees over the 10 minutes or so that we watched it. Its
orbit was very close to that of our own. We never saw it on any earlier
or succeeding orbits and we'd be quite interested in having its
identification established. It's all debriefed in terms of time on
channel A, so the precise timing and location can be picked up from
the Channel A recorder was off, so determining the precise time and
location of Skylab using that method was not possible. The information
was later determined using NORAD tracking data.
what was the large mysterious object purportedly undetected by NORAD
(North American Aerospace Defense Command) that was observed in such
close proximity to Skylab by its crew? Was it a piece of space junk, a
terrestrial satellite, an extraterrestrial visitor, a flaw on the
camera’s film or a smudge on the wardroom window? All have been offered
as possibilities, none with any great degree of certainty.
took place on July 11, 1979, part of the debris scattering across
Western Australia. 
Later calculations, admittedly based on a series of assumptions,
indicated the object to be much larger than Skylab which at 78 tons was
the largest man made construct in orbit at the time. (Mir launched in
1986 weighed 120 tons, while the International Space Station weighs in
at about 500 tons.)
later changed his story somewhat, saying the object did not lead the
Skylab into sunset but rather followed it.
The Shire of Esperance, an area covering 16,427 square miles, fined the
United States government $400.00 for littering. The fine was finally
paid in April 2009 by an American radio show host who after raising
money from his listeners paid it off on behalf of NASA.
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