July 11, 1979 America's first space station was a makeshift thing, retrofitted from the commodious third stage of a Saturn V booster that would no longer be needed to send men to the moon. It was fired into orbit unmanned on May 14, 1973, immediately developed technical problems and had to be set right by the first Skylab crew, which followed along shortly after. The station was soon functioning reasonably well and ultimately served as home to three crews before being decommissioned in February 1974. Thereafter it was left to drift, its orbit slowly decaying. With no rockets aboard to boost it higher, the ship was destined to crash to the earth, which it did 5½ years later, breaking up in the atmosphere and scattering its remains across the Australian outback. There was, luckily, no damage to life or property, but more than a little to NASA's rep, which, post-moon, was starting to look as adrift as Skylab itself.