Bruce McCandless, astronaut who donned jetpack on first tetherless spacewalk, dies

Astronaut Bruce Mc Candless II STS-41B mission specialist uses his hands to control his movement above the Earth- and just few meters away from the space shuttle Challenger- during the first-ever spacewalk which didn't use restrictive tethers and

Astronaut Bruce McCandless II, first to float free in space, dies at 80

Bruce McCandless, the first person to fly free and untethered in space, has passed away at the age of 80. In 1984, during the STS-41B mission, McCandless came out of the Challenger spaceship and flew in space untethered, that means, without any restrictive tethers and umbilicals, and controlled in movement with his hands. When Discovery touched down at Edwards Air Force Base's Runway 22 on April 29, it would mark the last time that McCandless would travel to space.

As a naval aviator, McCandless participated in the Cuban blockade during the 1962 missile crisis. The NASA Johnson Space Center says he died Thursday. The cause and manner of his death were not immediately released. McCandless also served as the Mission Control capsule communicator in Houston as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon in 1969.

Launched on February 3, 1984, on the Space Shuttle Challenger, STS-41-B was the tenth shuttle flight (and Challenger's fourth).

McCandless wrote in the Guardian in 2015 that it was "a wonderful feeling". Although he was "shivering", he was also felt "very comfortable" because he believed it was a "minor thing".

Mission Specialist Bruce McCandless II, furthest away from the confines and safety of his ship than any previous astronaut.

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In 1990, on shuttle mission STS-31, McCandless helped deploy the Hubble space telescope, which first allowed us to study the universe without having to peer through the atmosphere. He was silent once Armstrong reached the Lunar Module's footpad, took that first step and said to everyone back on Earth: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind".

Conceived in Boston, McCandless moved on from Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in Long Beach, California. He received a bachelor of science degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1958, a master of science degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1965, and a masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Houston at Clear Lake City in 1987.

Astronaut Bruce McCandless II in 1982.

McCandless held a patent for a tool tethering system that was used during space shuttle spacewalks.

McCandless is survived by his wife, Ellen Shields McCandless; son Bruce McCandless III and wife Patricia; daughter Tracy McCandless; granddaughters Emma Rose and Carson Clare McCandless; brother Douglas M. McCandless; and sisters Sue M. Woodridge and Rosemary V. McCandless.

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