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NEW YORK — Had Jack A. Kinzler not built model planes as a boy, had he not visited the post office as a youth and had he not, as a grown man, purchased four fishing rods at $12.95 apiece, Skylab — the United States’ $2.5 billion space station — would very likely have been forfeit.
Providentially, Mr. Kinzler had done all those things, and Skylab, imperiled by the loss of a thermal shield on its launch in 1973, was saved. Mr. Kinzler saved it with a parasol.
A constitutional tinkerer, Mr. Kinzler, who died March 4 at 94, was for decades NASA’s resident Mr. Fix-It, solving a slew of mechanical problems over the years — all without the benefit of a college degree.