In this June 1973 photograph, Skylab 2 pilot Paul J. Weitz operates the control and display console of the Apollo Telescope Mount solar observatory. Weitz, along with Commander Pete Conrad and science-pilot Joe Kerwin successfully completed a 28-day mission aboard Skylab, which was the first crewed mission to the first U.S. space station. Launched aboard a modified Saturn V rocket on May 14, 1973, Skylab marked a new phase for American’s human spaceflight program, with the goal of staying in space for longer periods and conducting complex scientific experiments in the unique environment. The Skylab 2 mission lasted from May 25 to June 22, 1973.
Weitz received his commission as an Ensign through the Naval ROTC program at Penn State. He served for one year at sea aboard a destroyer before going to flight training and was awarded his aviator wings in September 1956. He served in various naval aircraft squadrons until he was selected as an astronaut in 1966. He retired as a captain of the U.S. Navy in 1976.
He logged 672 hours and 49 minutes in space aboard Skylab, including 2 hours and 11 minutes of spacewalk time. Mr. Weitz commanded STS-6, the first flight of Space Shuttle Challenger, which launched on April 4, 1983, and landed on April 9. The mission’s primary payload was the first Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, a new NASA satellite that would revolutionize low-Earth orbit communications forever. Mr. Weitz also served as Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center. He retired from NASA in 1994.
Paul Weitz passed away October 23, 2017. He was 85.
We honor you, Paul Weitz.