Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on TwitterBruce McCandless II is a retired astronaut who was the first person to ever make an untethered spacewalk. His untethered spacewalk was accomplished during the first of his two space shuttle flights, using the Manned Maneuvering Unit.
McCandless began his post-secondary education at the United States Naval Academy, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in 1958. He followed that with a master of science degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1965. After graduation from the Academy, he received flight training from the Naval Aviation Training Command, becoming a pilot in 1960. Between 1960 and 1964 he flew the Skyray and F-4B Phantom II aircraft.. He saw duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
McCandless was one of 19 astronauts selected in 1966. He served as CAPCOM for the Apollo 11 mission, was a member of the astronaut support crew for Apollo 14, and was backup pilot for the first manned Skylab mission. He was a co-investigator on the M-509 astronaut maneuvering unit and collaborated on the development of the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU). He was responsible for crew inputs to the development of hardware and procedures for the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), Space Telescope, the Solar Maximum Repair Mission, and the Space Station Program. McCandless was a mission specialist on space shuttle flights STS-41-B and STS-31, logging a total of 312 hours in space.
During mission STS-41-B, McCandless performed the first inflight checkout of the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) and Manipulator Foot Restraint (MFR). During STS 31 he was part of the crew that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope. This was done from a record setting altitude of 612 km.
It is hard to imagine the courage that it took to perform the first untethered spacewalk.
We’ve also recorded an episode of Astronomy Cast about the space shuttle. Listen here, Episode 127: The US Space Shuttle.