Bruce McCandless, the primary particular person to fly untethered in area and whose journey into the darkish void above Earth was preserved in an iconic , died on Thursday. He was 80.
NASA introduced his loss of life in a press release on Friday however didn’t present extra particulars.
Geared up with a cumbersome backpack, two dozen tiny jet thrusters and two bottles of nitrogen gasoline to gasoline them, Mr. McCandless took his maiden voyage in February 1984. It was captured in a picture of a person in a white area go well with floating towards a backdrop of the nice black abyss.
A front-page article in The New York Occasions referred to as Mr. McCandless’s ascent “a spectacle of bravery and sweetness.” Mr. McCandless and one other astronaut, Robert L. Stewart, the article stated, had successfully grow to be “the primary human satellites,” orbiting the Earth on the similar velocity because the close by shuttle — 17,500 miles an hour.
“Which will have been one small step for Neil, however it’s a heck of a giant leap for me,” Mr. McCandless joked on the time, in reference to feedback Neil Armstrong made after taking the primary human step on the moon in 1969.
One in all 19 folks chosen by NASA to grow to be astronauts in April 1966, Mr. McCandless, a former United States Navy captain, would play a task in Mr. Armstrong’s famed moonwalk solely three years later.
Mr. McCandless, in mission management, was one voice the world heard speaking with Mr. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin throughout their Apollo 11 mission. At one level, Mr. Armstrong remarked that their view of the moon was “actually spectacular” and “well worth the value of the journey.”
About 15 years earlier than he would roam by way of area himself, Mr. McCandless replied, “Effectively, there are lots of us down right here that might be prepared to return alongside.”
Mr. McCandless would spend one other decade serving to to develop the know-how — referred to as “manned maneuvering items” — that might enable him to drift free in area on the age of 46.
That 1984 mission had varied technical goals, however it was Mr. McCandless’s inaugural spacewalk that captured the hearts and minds of these about 170 miles under. The Occasions described Mr. McCandless as “a puffy white gingerbread man” floating above the continental United States.
“That is neat,” he stated, earlier than peering down.
“Appears to be like like Florida. It’s Florida!” he exclaimed, remarking later that the panorama “actually is gorgeous.”
Throughout his second area shuttle mission, in 1990, Mr. McCandless helped deploy the Hubble Area Telescope. By the tip of his profession, he had logged greater than 300 hours in area, together with 4 hours in a manned maneuvering unit, in response to his NASA biography.
Bruce McCandless II was born on June eight, 1937, in Boston right into a household of high-ranking Naval officers. He graduated from Woodrow Wilson Senior Excessive College in Lengthy Seaside, Calif., and obtained a bachelor of science diploma from the US Naval Academy in 1958. He later earned two grasp’s levels — one in electrical engineering from Stanford College and one other in enterprise administration from the College of Houston at Clear Lake Metropolis.
He obtained a number of honors all through his profession from the Protection Division, NASA and the Smithsonian Establishment. He was additionally awarded a patent for his function in designing what NASA stated was “a instrument tethering system” used throughout spacewalks.
Mr. McCandless is survived by his spouse, Ellen Shields McCandless; his son, Bruce III; his daughter, Tracy McCandless; a brother, Douglas; two sisters, Sue M. Woodridge and Rosemary V. McCandless; and two granddaughters.
Whereas reflecting on that well-known in July 2015, Mr. McCandless famous, in an interview with The Guardian, that his visor had been down.
“My anonymity means folks can think about themselves doing the identical factor,” he stated. “Like Neil stated in 1969, I used to be representing mankind up there.”