The first untethered free flight in space, 1984
In this mind-blowing photograph, taken 12 February 1984, Mission Specialist Bruce McCandless II, is seen further away from the confines and safety of his ship than any previous astronaut had ever been. This ‘space first’ was made possible by the Manned Maneuvering Unit or MMU, a nitrogen jet propelled backpack.
After a series of test maneuvers inside and above Challenger’s payload bay, McCandless went free-flying to a distance of 320 feet (97.5 m) away from the Orbiter. This stunning orbital panorama view shows McCandless out there amongst the black and blue of Earth and space.
During his career McCandless logged over 312 hours in space. He was a member of the astronaut support crew for the Apollo 14 mission, served as CAPCOM during the Apollo 11 mission when Neil Armstrong first set his foot on the Moon, and was backup pilot for the first manned Skylab mission (SL-1/SL-2). And of course he completed the first ever untethered free flight in space.
Photographer by NASA