TRIVIAL PURSUITS: Was Skylab's Littering Fine Paid?

June 22, 2010 ( - The space station Skylab was supposed to remain in orbit for 8-10 years after its last mission in 1974.

However, due to unexpectedly high solar activity, it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere in 1979 – in the process scattering debris across Western Australia and the eastern part of the Indian Ocean.  In fact, the Shire of Esperance, a municipal area of southwest Australia, issued NASA a $400 fine for littering. 

Was that fine ever paid?


Yes, but not by NASA, and not until April 2009, when radio show host Scott Barley of Highway Radio raised the funds from his morning show listeners, and paid the fine on behalf of NASA. 

As for the Shire of Esperance, it accepted the check, but had written off the debt in 1979.