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NASA's Unpaid $400 Littering Ticket For Skylab Debris in Australia
In 1973, NASA made its first attempt at an orbital space station with Skylab. The project, which had to eventually be abandoned before falling back to Earth, cost an estimated $2.2 billion, though one expense was left unpaid for over three decades: a $400 littering ticket issued by a park service official in Western Australia.
No one was hurt, but NASA wasn’t completely off the hook. When members of the Skylab investigation team visited the Shire of Esperance in Western Australia to inspect the damage and collect the station remnants, they were greeted with a $400 ticket for littering.
The ticket was issued as a gag and in good fun, and NASA never paid off the $400 fine. In 2009, 30 years after Skylab’s reentry, California radio DJ Scott Barley asked listeners to donate money so they could finally clear NASA’s books
On 14 February 2008 the U.S. Department of Defense announced that the Lake Erie and two other ships would attempt to hit the failed satellite USA-193 in the north Pacific just prior to burn up during a period after 20 February using a modified SM-3 missile.
On 21 February 2008, at approximately 3:30 UTC, the missile was fired and later confirmed to have struck the satellite. The military intended that the kinetic energy of the missile would rupture the hydrazine fuel tank allowing the toxic fuel to be consumed during re-entry.
But now experts have predicted a March 2018 uncontrolled entry is more likely and countries at risk include Spain, Turkey, India, Italy and parts of the US, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
EPA experts have said that they are “confident” debris will not land further north than 43°N or further south than 43°S.
But they stressed any countries between these latitudes could be hit by the craft’s junk.