Paul Joseph Weitz (born July 25, 1932), (Capt, USN, Ret.), is a retired American naval officer and aviator, aeronautical engineer, test pilot, and former NASA astronaut, who flew into space twice. He was a member of the three-man crew who flew on Skylab 2, the first manned Skylab mission. He was also Commander of the STS-6 mission, the first of the Space Shuttle Challenger flights.
Early years and educationEdit
Weitz was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, on July 25, 1932. He graduated from Harbor Creek High School in Harborcreek, Pennsylvania, in 1950. The high school stadium was later named after him. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1954. While attending Penn State, he was a member of the Alpha Upsilon Chapter of Beta Theta Pi. Ten years later he received a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
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 has logged more than 7,700 hours flying time—6,400 hours in jet aircraft.
In April 1966, Weitz was one of 19 men selected by NASA for Astronaut Group 5. He served as Pilot on the crew of Skylab 2 (SL-2), which launched on May 25 and splashed down on June 22, 1973. SL-2 was the first manned Skylab mission, and achieved a 28-day durationt. Weitz and his two crewmates, Pete Conrad and Joseph P. Kerwin, performed extensive and unprecedented repairs to serious damage the unmanned Skylab sustained during its launch, salvaging the entire Skylab mission. In logging 672 hours and 49 minutes aboard the orbital workshop, the crew established what was then a new world record for a single mission. Weitz also logged two hours and 11 minutes of EVA. He may have also been assigned as the Command Module Pilot for the canceled Apollo 20 mission.
Weitz was spacecraft commander on the crew of STS-6, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on April 4, 1983. This was the maiden voyage of the orbiter Challenger. During the mission, the crew conducted numerous experiments in materials processing, recorded lightning activities, deployed IUS/TDRS-A, conducted extravehicular activity while testing a variety of support systems and equipment in preparation for future space walks, and also carried three Getaway Specials. Mission duration was 120 hours before Challenger landed on a concrete runway at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on April 9, 1983. With the completion of this flight, Weitz logged a total of 793 hours in space.
Weitz was Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center when he retired from NASA in May 1994.
Hunting and fishing are among his hobbies.
Weitz married the former Suzanne M. Berry of Harborcreek, Pennsylvania. They had two children: Matthew J. (born September 23, 1958), and Cynthia A. (born September 25, 1961). His mother, Mrs. Violet Futrell of Norfolk, Virginia, died in 2001.
Awards and honorsEdit
- Navy Astronaut Wings
- Navy Distinguished Service Medal
- Air Medal (5)
- Navy Commendation Medal (for combat flights in Vietnam)
- NASA Distinguished Service Medal
- NASA Space Flight Medal
- Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce Kitty Hawk Award (1973)
- Robert J. Collier Trophy for 1973 (1974)
- Pennsylvania State University Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumni Award
- Named a Pennsylvania State University Alumni Fellow (1974)
- AIAA Haley Astronautics Award for 1974
- Fédération Aéronautique Internationale's V. M. Komarov Diploma for 1973 (1974)
- Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy for 1975
- 1974 Harmon International Aviation Trophy for Astronaut (1975)
- 1984 Harmon International Award (1989)
- The football field at Harbor Creek High School is named after him.
- Weight: 180 lb (82 kg)
- Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
- Hair: Silver
- Eyes: Blue
|40x40px||Wikimedia Commons has media related to Category:Paul J. Weitz.|
- Weitz's official NASA biography
- Astronautix biography of Paul J. Weitz
- Spacefacts biography of Paul J. Weitz
- Weitz at Spaceacts
- Weitz at Encyclopedia of Science
- About Paul J. Weitz
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