Jack A. Kinzler, the man who saved Skylab and gave us golf on the moon, died March 4 at the age of 94.
For 16 years Kinzler was chief of the Technical Services Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
When Skylab lost its heat shield after launch in 1973, he devised a shade tree to ward off the rays of the Sun that could be deployed without a hazardous spacewalk. His legendary prototype was made from a set of collapsible fishing rods — the finished parasol was built from telescoping aluminum tubes and silver-and-orange fabric of nylon, Mylar and aluminum. Kinzler received NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal for his work.
He oversaw the design of the American flags astronauts planted on several Moon missions and of the commemorative plaques attached to lunar landing vehicles which stayed on the Moon.
Kinzler’s department also made astronaut Alan Shepard’s golf club, used to tee off two balls on the lunar surface – attaching a 6-iron head to the handle of a lunar-sample scoop.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock for the story.]