Thursday, February 7, 2013
Bruce McCandless: Floating Astronaut in Space
Posted by Jay at 2:50 PM
NASA has had a great knack for producing awe-inspiring images. In its history of space exploration, the most jaw-dropping photographs are usually those that involve stars and galaxies thousands of light-years away. A few other great images, however, are much closer to home. In this iconic image of a lonely spaceman stuck between earth and nothingness, NASA was able to successfully perform a free spacewalk for the very first time. This is the story of Bruce McCandless and the photograph of the floating astronaut in space.
The flying spaceman in the picture is Captain Bruce McCandless II, credited for having made the first untethered free flight in space. Previously, and even now, any Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVAs) performed by astronauts were done so with a tether. Spacewalks were thus limited to the length of the tether. With the new Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), spacewalks could be performed untethered.
The free flight was done on February 12, 1984 with the nitrogen jet backpack. McCandless traveled some 320 feet away from the space shuttle Challenger, farther than any astronaut had attempted ever before. The resulting view showed a small astronaut against the blackness of space and the pale blues and whites of the earth.
Check out NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day or their Multimedia Section for more details on Bruce McCandless and the floating astronaut in space image. For more NASA and Space related images, check out previous posts under this category.