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Picture of the Day - October 12, 2009

The ultimate in "manned" spaceflight

Photo of Astronaut Bruce McCandless II flying through space without the aid of a spacecraft.
Photo courtesy of NASA.                               (Click on the photo for a larger view)

Back in 1984 astronaut Bruce McCandless II took the concept of "manned spaceflight" to an entirely new level when he ventured over 100 yards from the Space Shuttle Challenger during an untethered space walk. Powered by a contraption called a "Manned Maneuvering Unit" (and nerves of steel), Mr. McCandless literally flew through space without the aid of a spaceship.

Although the length of a football field doesn't sound like a very long distance, it no doubt seemed like 1,000 miles to Mr. McCandless. After all, once an astronaut ventures outside the safety of his spacecraft without a "lifeline" attached, he would be on his own if something were to go terribly wrong.

I believe that astronauts of future generations will be flying through space like this on a daily basis, and at much greater distances than the short flight taken by Astronaut McCandless. But on that beautiful day back in 1984, this man got the ball rolling by venturing farther out into space than anyone else in human history.

Visitor Comments...
    Name: Randy Patrick
    Town: Orinda, CA

    What a breathtaking view the astronaut must have enjoyed on this spacewalk. Awesome picture!!!!!!!
    Name: Cecil Ott
    Town: Shreveport, LA

    Yeah, I'd say this took nerves of steel. If the MMU had malfunctioned Mr. McCandless would most likely have died. Awesome picture indeed!
    Name: Ed Morrison
    Town: Dunwoody, GA

    Mr. Rouse, the photos you publish on this site are always "out of this world", but this one is simply fantastic.
    Name: Kathy Beach
    Town: Maryville, TN

    Rick, I agree with all the comments of this awe inspiring picture that you have posted today. Gordon Brugman introduced me to "TodaysPhoto" and I am so happy that he did. I love the site and what it is about. Thank you for "TodaysPhoto" and all that you publish on it.
    Name: Phyllis Helton
    Town: Bristol, VA

    Name: Humberto Peña
    Town: Edgewood, FL

    Today's picture is a breathtaking reminder of the greatness of our American Space program. I hope we never lose our collective fascination with the universe or our ambition to explore it.

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