NASA Astronaut Bruce McCandless II, First Person to Fly Untethered In Space Dies In California At Age 80

Mccandless during a spacewalk during the STS-41-B Mission, on Feb. 7, 1984

The first person to fly freely and untethered in space, has died at the age of 80. NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless II died on Thursday in California, NASA’s Johnson Space Center announced Friday. No cause of death was given.

McCandless was famously photographed in 1984 flying with a hefty spacewalker’s jetpack, alone in the cosmic blackness above Earth, while becoming the very first astronaut to fly unattached to this spacecraft in a Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU).

McCandless uses a nitrogen jet-propelled backpack, a Manned Manuevering Unit, outside the space shuttle Challenger on Feb. 12, 1984

He traveled more than 300 feet away from the space shuttle Challenger during that historic spacewalk. McCandless said he was not nervous about the mission, and the he was ‘grossly over-trained.’ ‘I was just anxious to get out there and fly. I felt very comfortable,’ he told the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colo., in 2006.

McCandless is seen here, wearing a Shuttle Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Suit with Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) in Houston in 1982

McCandless performs untethered extra-vehicular activity (EVA) using an MMU during the Space Shuttle Challenger's mission STS-41-B, in Feb. 1984

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