NASA confirms that Bruce McCandless, who was captured in a stunning photograph in 1984 as he made the first untethered flight in space, has died aged 80. He passed away on Dec 21 in California.
Candless was a NASA astronaut who was the first person to fly freely and untethered in space during a 1984 space shuttle missions.
He died at home in California and at the moment, nNo cause of death was given.
“The iconic photo of Bruce soaring effortlessly in space has inspired generations of Americans to believe that there is no limit to the human potential,” said Senator John McCain, who was a classmate of McCandless at the US Naval Academy.
With a jetpack, McCandless travelled 100m (328ft) from the Space Shuttle.
“That may have been one small step for Neil, but it’s a heck of a big leap for me,” he joked, adapting astronaut Neil Armstrong’s famous moon-landing line.
Armstrong’s words were in fact relayed to McCandless, who was in mission control for the moon landing in 1969. His voice was recorded in those era-defining moments, communicating with Armstrong and his fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins as they planted the US flag on the moon. “Oh, it’s beautiful, Mike. It really is,” he said over the radio.