Weitz took a very dangerous mission to help repair Skylab in the 1970s, and he will be forever remembered as one of the most accomplished men in NASA history.
NASA truly lost a giant in its history this weekend, as Paul Weitz passed away Oct. 22 at his home in Flagstaff, Ariz. He was 85. His death was caused by blood cancer, according to his son as reported in the press.
Weitz was part of the crew that was sent to conduct scientific experiments aboard Skylab in 1973, but they discovered the $2.5 billion space station had significant damage and needed emergeny repairs. Skylab’s heat shield that was responsible for protecting the laboratory from meteoroids and extreme temperatures had been sheared off during the launch, which had also ripped away one of the two solar panels.
Weitz and two other astronauts had to scramble from science mode into emergency repair mode as they prepared to launch to the space station. When they reached Skylab, they engaged in a painstaking repair process with improvised tools. Weitz even leaned out of the hatch of the Apollo capsule as a fellow astronaut held his ankles to keep him from floating off into space.
The Washington Post has the full story on their harrowing ordeal, and you can read it here.