The first astronaut to fly in space untethered died on Thursday at the age of 80. According to NASA, Captain Bruce McCandless II (US Navy, retired) passed away at his home in California from undisclosed causes. The former astronaut was a mission specialist on the STS-41B and STS-31 Space Shuttle missions in 1984 and 1990, respectively, and is best known for being the first person to use the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) to fly alongside the Shuttle without a safety line.
McCandless was born on June 8, 1937 in Boston, Massachusetts. He received a BSc from the United States Naval Academy in 1958 and an MSc from Stanford University in 1965. He was one of 19 astronauts selected by NASA in 1966 and acted as Mission Control communicator for the Apollo 11 mission, backup astronaut for Apollo 14 and the first manned Skylab mission.
In 1984, McCandless made his spacewalk, in which he used the MMU thruster pack to maneuver out of the Shuttle cargo bay and fly on a parallel trajectory with the spacecraft. During the walk, he emulated Apollo 11 Commander, Neil Armstrong by saying, "'It may have been a small step for Neil, but it's a heck of a big leap for me."
McCandless later went on to help deploy the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990. He logged a total of over 312 hours in space, including four hours of flight time using the MMU.
Captain McCandless is survived by his wife, brother, two sisters, son, daughter, daughter-in-law, and two granddaughters.
The video below shows McCandless's famous spacewalk.
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