Encyclopedia Astronautica

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Weitz, Paul Joseph (1932-) American pilot astronaut. Flew on Skylab 2, STS-6. Member of first successful space station mission.

Official NASA Biography

NAME: Paul J. Weitz (pronounced WHITES) (Mr.)

NASA Astronaut

BIRTHPLACE AND DATE: Born in Erie, Pennsylvania, on July 25, 1932. His mother, Mrs. Violet Futrell, now resides in Norfolk, Virginia.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Silver hair; blue eyes; 5 feet 10 inches; 180 pounds.

EDUCATION: Graduated from Harborcreek High School in Harborcreek, Pennsylvania; received a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1954 and a master's degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, in 1964.

MARITAL STATUS: Married to the former Suzanne M. Berry of Harborcreek, Pennsylvania.

CHILDREN: Matthew J., September 23, 1958; Cynthia A., September 25, 1961.

RECREATIONAL INTERESTS: Hunting and fishing are among his hobbies.

ORGANIZATIONS: Fellow, American Astronautical Association.

SPECIAL HONORS: Awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Astronaut Wings, Air Medal (5 awards), and Commendation Medal (for combat flights in Vietnam); the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce Kitty Hawk Award (1973), the Robert J. Collier Trophy for 1973 (1974), the Pennsylvania State University Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumni Award, named a Pennsylvania State University Alumni Fellow (1974), the AIAA Haley Astronautics Award for 1974, the Federation Aeronautique Internationale's V. M. Komarov Diploma for 1973 (1974), the Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy for 1975, the 1974 Harmon International Aviation Trophy for Astronaut (1975), NASA Space Flight Medal (1983), the 1984 Harmon International Award (1989).

EXPERIENCE: Weitz received his commission as an Ensign through the NROTC program at Pennsylvania State University. He served for one year at sea aboard a destroyer before going to flight training and was awarded his wings in September 1956. He served in various naval 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.

NASA EXPERIENCE: Mr. Weitz is one of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. He served as pilot on Skylab 2 (SL-2), which launched on May 25 and ended on June 22, 1973. SL-2 was the first manned Skylab mission, and activated a 28-day flight. 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. Mr. Weitz also logged 2 hours and 11 minutes in extravehicular activities.

Mr. Weitz was spacecraft commander 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; and conducted spectacular 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 landing Challenger on a concrete runway at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on April 9, 1983. With the completion of this flight Paul Weitz logged a total of 793 hours in space.

CURRENT ASSIGNMENT: Mr. Weitz currently serves as the Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center.


Birth Place: Erie, Pennsylvania.
Status: Inactive.

Born: 1932.07.25.
Spaceflights: 2 .
Total time in space: 33.05 days.

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
See also
  • Astronaut Category of persons, applied to those trained for spaceflight outside of Russia and China. More...
  • NASA Group 5 - 1966 Requirement: pilot-astronauts for the Apollo Applications Program (then planned as 10 lunar landings after Apollo 11 and 30 Apollo flights to earth-orbit space stations). Nickname: The Original Nineteen More...

Associated Flights
  • Skylab 2 Crew: Conrad, Kerwin, Weitz. Record flight duration. Crew had to conduct major repairs to get damaged station in operation. Astronaut flung into space during release of solar wing. High temperatures in station brought down by deployment of sunshade. Backup crew: McCandless, Musgrave, Schweickart. More...
  • STS-6 Crew: Bobko, Musgrave, Peterson, Weitz. First flight of space shuttle Challenger. First space walk of Shuttle program Manned four crew. Deployed Tracking and Data Relay Satellite. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • USN American agency overseeing development of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. USN Joint Task Force 7, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Skylab First and only US space station to date. Project began life as Apollo Orbital Workshop - outfitting of an S-IVB stage with docking adapter with equipment launched by several subsequent S-1B launches. Curtailment of the Apollo moon landings meant that surplus Saturn V's were available, so the pre-equipped, five times heavier, and much more capable Skylab resulted. More...
  • STS The Space Transportation System (Space Shuttle) was conceived originally as a completely reusable system that would provide cheap, routine access to space and replace all American and civilian military launch vehicles. Crippled by technological overreach, political compromise, and budget limitations, it instead ended up costing more than the expendable rockets it was to have replaced. STS sucked the money out of all other NASA projects for half a century. The military abandoned its use after the Challenger shuttle explosion in the 1980's. More...

  • NASA Astronaut Biographies, Johnson Space Center, NASA, 1995-present. Web Address when accessed: here.

Weitz Chronology

1966 April 4 - .
  • NASA Astronaut Training Group 5 selected. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Brand; Bull; Carr; Duke; Engle; Evans; Givens; Haise; Irwin; Lind; Lousma; Mattingly; McCandless; Mitchell; Pogue; Roosa; Swigert; Weitz; Worden. The group was selected to provide pilot-astronauts for the Apollo Applications Program (then planned as 10 lunar landings after Apollo 11 and 30 Apollo flights to earth-orbit space stations).. Qualifications: Qualified jet pilot with minimum 1,000 flight-hours, bachleor's degree in engineering or physical or biological sciences, under 35 years old, under 183 cm height, excellent health. US citizen.. 351 applications (including six women and a legless US Navy pilot). All 19, except X-15 astronaut Engle, would fly into space on Apollo or Skylab missions. Engle and six others would fly shuttle missions.

1973 May 25 - . 13:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39B. LV Family: Saturn I. Launch Vehicle: Saturn IB. LV Configuration: Saturn IB SA-206.
  • Skylab 2 - . Call Sign: Skylab. Crew: Conrad; Kerwin; Weitz. Backup Crew: McCandless; Musgrave; Schweickart. Payload: Apollo CSM 116. Mass: 19,979 kg (44,046 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Conrad; Kerwin; Weitz; McCandless; Musgrave; Schweickart. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: Skylab. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar spacecraft. Flight: Skylab 2. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM. Duration: 28.03 days. Decay Date: 1973-06-22 . USAF Sat Cat: 6655 . COSPAR: 1973-032A. Apogee: 440 km (270 mi). Perigee: 425 km (264 mi). Inclination: 50.0000 deg. Period: 93.20 min. Epic repair mission which brought Skylab into working order. Included such great moments as Conrad being flung through space by the whiplash after heaving on the solar wing just as the debris constraining it gave way; deployment of a lightweight solar shield, developed in Houston in one week, which brought the temperatures down to tolerable levels. With this flight US again took manned spaceflight duration record.

    Skylab 2 , consisting of a modified Apollo CSM payload and a Saturn IB launch vehicle, was inserted into Earth orbit approximately 10 minutes after liftoff. The orbit achieved was 357 by 156 km and, during a six-hour period following insertion, four maneuvers placed the CSM into a 424 by 415 km orbit for rendezvous with the Orbital Workshop. Normal rendezvous sequencing led to stationkeeping during the fifth revolution followed by a flyaround inspection of the damage to the OWS. The crew provided a verbal description of the damage in conjunction with 15 minutes of television coverage. The solar array system wing (beam) 2 was completely missing. The solar array system wing (beam) 1 was slightly deployed and was restrained by a fragment of the meteoroid shield. Large sections of the meteoroid shield were missing. Following the flyaround inspection, the CSM soft-docked with the OWS at 5:56 p.m. EDT to plan the next activities. At 6:45 p.m. EDT the CSM undocked and extravehicular activity was initiated to deploy the beam 1 solar array. The attempt failed. Frustration of the crew was compounded when eight attempts were required to achieve hard docking with the OWS. The hard dock was made at 11:50 p.m. EDT, terminating a Skylab 2 first-day crew work period of 22 hours.

1973 May 26 - . 00:40 GMT - .
  • EVA Skylab 2-1 - . Crew: Weitz. EVA Type: Stand-Up External Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.0257 days. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Weitz. Program: Skylab. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar spacecraft. Flight: Skylab 2. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM. Summary: First and failed attempt to release jammed solar panel..

1973 June 19 - . 10:55 GMT - .
  • EVA Skylab 2-3 - . Crew: Conrad; Weitz. EVA Type: Extra-Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.0722 days. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Conrad; Weitz. Program: Skylab. Class: Manned. Type: Manned space station. Flight: Skylab 2. Spacecraft: Skylab. Summary: Replacement of film cartridges for solar camera..

1973 June 22 - .
1983 April 4 - . 18:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39A. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-6.
  • STS-6 - . Call Sign: Challenger. Crew: Bobko; Musgrave; Peterson; Weitz. Payload: Challenger F01 / TDRS 1 [IUS]. Mass: 21,305 kg (46,969 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Bobko; Musgrave; Peterson; Weitz. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: STS. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Flight: STS-6. Spacecraft: Challenger. Duration: 5.02 days. Decay Date: 1983-04-09 . USAF Sat Cat: 13968 . COSPAR: 1983-026A. Apogee: 295 km (183 mi). Perigee: 288 km (178 mi). Inclination: 28.5000 deg. Period: 90.40 min. Manned four crew. First flight of space shuttle Challenger; deployed TDRSS. Payloads: Deployment of Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS)-A with Inertial Upper Stage (lUS)-2, Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES), Monodisperse Latex Reactor (MLR), Night/Day Optical Survey of Lightning (NOSL) experiment, three getaway specials (GAS).

1983 April 9 - .
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