The man who made the first untethered flight in space and then was photographed in 1984, Bruce McCandless, died Tuesday in California, as NASA’s Johnson Space Center announced Friday.  However, no cause of death was given.

He was 80 years old. He had a wife, Ellen Shields McCandless of Conifer, Colorado, two children, and two grandchildren.

The photograph that made him famous pictures him wearing the hefty spacewalker’s jetpack while floating alone across the immensity of space – just over our blue and green world. According to McCandless, he wasn’t nervous when the NASA told him he was going to do such a historic spacewalk. In here, he was able to travel 100 (328 ft) away from the space shuttle Challenger.

Besides wearing it, Bruce also helped develop the jetpack. Then, he started forming part of the team that launched the Hubble Space Telescope into space.

According to an interview he gave in 2006 to the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colorado, he was “anxious” and “grossly over-trained,” and felt the necessity to “get out there and fly.”

McCandless said that he didn’t felt nervous when NASA told him he was going to spacewalk only wearing the jetpack. Image credit: NASA

The man then said that his teeth got “cold” after they started “chattering.” Although he was “shivering,” he was also felt “very comfortable” because he believed it was a “minor thing.”

In Houston, 1969, McCandless formed part of the Mission Control capsule and worked in communications. That year, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin traveled the moon.

“That may have been one small step for Neil, but it’s a heck of a big leap for me,” he joked while using practically the words that Neil Armstrong said when he first walked the moon.

In fact, that same famous phrase that Armstrong used was relayed to McCandless.

When he was talking with Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Mike Collins while they planted the US flag on moon ground, he responded to his companions something that stayed recorded for history: “Oh, it’s beautiful, Mike. It really is.”

Astronaut, pilot, engineer, and administrator

McCandless was born in Boston before he graduated from Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in Long Beach, California.

He studied at the Naval Academy. Then, at the Stanford University – where he earned his master ‘s degree in electrical engineering.

At the University of Houston at Clear Lake, in 1987, he became a business administrator.

Senator John McCain, who also studied at the US Naval Academy and was classmate with McCandless in 1958, said that the “iconic” photo of the astronaut soaring effortlessly in space has “inspired generations of Americans” to believe that the human potential has no limits.

Bruce McCandell jetpack, NASA and Neil Armstrong, Unthetered flight
Bruce also worked with Neil Armstrong and received the famous message. Image credit: NASA

At the missile crisis, in 1962, he worked as a naval aviator.

“As an undistinguished graduate of that class, I always looked up to Bruce,” Senator McCain said, “not only for his incredible intellect, but also for his character and integrity, which embodied the highest values of the United States Navy.”

He became an astronaut after he was picked up from the Gemini program. Then, he was chosen to be the pilot of the first manned Skylab mission in 1973.

Source: NBC News