Veteran astronaut Paul J. Weitz has died at the age of 85.
Among his many accomplishments, Weitz served as a pilot aboard the Skylab space station, commanded the first flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger, and logged nearly 800 total hours in space.
He will be remembered as one of the most accomplished astronauts to slip on a spacesuit, having contributed to the seminal Skylab-2 mission, the Space Shuttle program, and as a NASA administrator.
He served for a year aboard a US destroyer before attending flight training, earning his pilot’s license in September 1956.
From May 25 to June 22, 1973, the crew established what was then a world record for a single mission, logging 672 hours and 49 minutes aboard the pioneering space station (doubling the previous record).
But the Skylab mission was memorable for another reason as well; a shield designed to protect the station from overheating and collisions with small meteorites had torn loose during lift-off.