Jack Kinzler, savior of Skylab, dies at 94

March 15, 2014 at 4:25 PM
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HOUSTON, March 15 (UPI) -- Jack Kinzler, former chief of the Technical Services Center at NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, died at the age of 94, officials said.

Kinzler, who died on March 4 at his home in Taylor Lake Village, Texas, is known for saving the $2.5 billion Skylab space station after it lost its thermal shield on its launch in 1973, the New York Times reported Friday.

After the space station lost its thermal shield, NASA postponed the launch of the station's crew and solicited ideas on how to fix Skylab.

Most of the solutions involved dangerous space walks, but Kinzler devised a plan so the damage could be fixed from inside the station.

Using fiberglass fishing rods, Kinzler built a model of an immense umbrella that could be placed in position from an airlock near the damaged area of Skylab.

NASA created the parasol within six days and it was attached by Skylab's crew, commander Charles Conrad Jr., Joseph P. Kerwin and Paul J. Weitz, on May 23, 1973.

The parasol cooled the space station down and allowed the astronauts to complete their 28-day mission.

Kinzler also designed six flags and plaques planted by American astronauts on the moon.

He is survived by his wife, Sylvia, sons, John and James, daughter, Nancy, and seven grandchildren.

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