On a sadder note: Former Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Paul Weitz passes away

by | Oct 24, 2017 | On a Sadder Note, Seradata News

While the Apollo space programme tended to eclipse its Gemini forerunner and its Skylab space station successor, in many ways it is the latter which became more important technologically for the next forty years of manned spaceflight. For Skylab was America’s first space station, and one that proved that NASA could keep up with the Soviet Salyut programme. As such, it is sad to note that Paul J. Weitz, pilot astronaut on the SKYLAB 02 mission and former US Navy jet test pilot and engineering graduate, has passed away from cancer. He was 85.

Paul Weitz in his Skylab astronaut days. Courtesy: NASA


The SKYLAB 02 mission was actually the first manned flight to the Skylab space station which kept the SKYLAB 01 mission name. The SKYLAB 02 mission was led by Charles “Pete” Conrad with his crew of Paul Weitz and Joseph Kerwin. It was key to saving the space station as it suffered extensive damage as the result of its launch including the loss of a solar array and heat shield. The mission which involved several hazardous spacewalks, managed to stabilise internal temperatures and power on the station by erecting a sunshield parasol through a scientific airlock, and free the remaining jammed solar array.

Weitz later became a Space Shuttle astronaut, flying the STS-06 mission – the maiden flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger – as its mission commander. Paul J. Weitz stayed within NASA to become deputy director of the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. He retired in 2004. We give our sympathy to his family and friends.

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to www.seradata.com/spacetrak

Related Articles

Proton-M launches Elektro-L N4 weather sat for Russia

A Proton-M/Block DM-03 launch vehicle was successfully launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, near Tyuratam in Kazakhstan at 0912 GMT on 5 Read more

SSLV failure cause: Violent second stage separation triggered chain of events which prevented SSLV final stage burn to stable orbit

The failure investigation set up by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) into the launch failure of the maiden flight Read more

South Korea confirms shift of two missions from Russian launchers; Kompsat 6 goes to Arianespace and CAS500-2 goes back to international market

The South Korean vice-minister for Science, Oh Tae-seog, announced on 1 February 2023 that they had selected an Arianespace Vega Read more

SpaceX launches another batch of Starlinks plus ION-SCV9 delivery spacecraft testing separation system

A Falcon 9v1.2FT Block 5 was launched from the Vandenberg Space Force base in California at 1615 GMT on 31 Read more

US sanctions SPACETY for supplying radar imagery to Russian Wagner Group in Ukraine

Just as Ukraine's military campaign has been supported by US commercial spacecraft operating firms — with SpaceX and Maxar providing Read more

Tianwen 1 mission’s Zhurong-1 Mars rover may have expired in its sleep

SpaceNews reports (quoting the South China Morning Post) that the Zhurong 1 Mars rover as part of the Tianwen 1 Read more

Tom Cruise may have saved cinema industry with Top Gun-Maverick but he has even higher movie plans with space station studio module now ordered

While action film actor Tom Cruise has his detractors, you cannot say he is not successful. Recently starring in the Read more

China deploys 14 satellites on Long March-2D rocket

The Chinese sent 14 new satellites into orbit on a Long March-2D/2 (CZ-2D/2) rocket at 0314 GMT on 15 January. Read more