Bruce McCandless
1937 - 2017
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HOUSTON (AP) - NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless, the first person to fly freely and untethered in space, has died. He was 80.

He was famously photographed in 1984 flying with a hefty spacewalker's jetpack, alone in the cosmic blackness above a blue Earth. He traveled more than 300 feet away from the space shuttle Challenger during the spacewalk.

"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," Sen. John McCain said in a statement. The Arizona Republican and McCandless classmates at the U.S. Naval Academy.

NASA's Johnson Space Center said Friday that McCandless died Thursday in California. No cause of death was given.

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McCandless said he wasn't nervous about the historic spacewalk.

"I was grossly over-trained. I was just anxious to get out there and fly. I felt very comfortable ... It got so cold my teeth were chattering and I was shivering, but that was a very minor thing," he told the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colorado, in 2006.

During that flight, McCandless and fellow astronaut Robert L. Stewart pioneered the use of NASA's backpack device that allowed astronauts walking in space to propel themselves from the shuttle. Stewart became the second person to fly untethered two hours after McCandless.

"I'd been told of the quiet vacuum you experience in space, but with three radio links saying, "How's your oxygen holding out?" ''Stay away from the engines!" ''When's my turn?" it wasn't that peaceful,' McCandless wrote in the Guardian in 2015.

But he also wrote: "It was a wonderful feeling, a mix of personal elation and professional pride: it had taken many years to get to that point."

McCandless was later part of the 1990 shuttle crew that delivered the Hubble Space Telescope to orbit. He also served as the Mission Control capsule communicator in Houston as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon in 1969.

During his spacewalk, "My wife was at mission control, and there was quite a bit of apprehension," McCandless wrote. "I wanted to say something similar to Neil when he landed on the moon, so I said, "It may have been a small step for Neil, but it's a heck of a big leap for me." That loosened the tension a bit."

Born in Boston, McCandless graduated from Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in Long Beach, California. He graduated from the Naval Academy and earned master's degrees in electrical engineering and business administration.

He was a naval aviator who participated in the Cuban blockade in the 1962 missile crisis. McCandless was selected for astronaut training during the Gemini program, and he was a backup pilot for the first manned Skylab mission in 1973.

"Bruce served his country with humility and dignity, and encouraged all of us to reach new heights," McCain said.

Survivors include his wife, Ellen Shields McCandless of Conifer, Colorado, two children and two grandchildren.



Copyright © 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Published in Legacy on Dec. 22, 2017.
Memories & Condolences
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54 entries
December 22, 2019
God is a God of all Comfort and he will Comfort the family's...My heartfelt sympathies to the Family's...
October 13, 2019
I am in awe of anyone who has had the privilege to visit space! What a accomplishment. We thank Mr. Mc Candless and other Astronauts like him for their bravery. I offer the family my condolences and may the Creator of the Universe continue to comfort you.
December 31, 2017
My deepest sympathy on your loss and may God comfort you during this difficult time.
December 31, 2017
I'm sorry for your loss.
December 29, 2017
Please accept my condolences on the loss of your love one.
December 29, 2017
We thank family of Bruce McCandless for his courage and his service
We pray that his family and friends will be given peace from above and comfort from the hearer of our prayers
December 28, 2017
With heartfelt sympathy. Please accept my deepest condolences. May you continue to cherish his precious memories together.
May you find comfort in the God of all comfort to offer you comfort and to give you the strength to endure during these difficult times ahead.
December 28, 2017
May the God of all comfort be with family and loved ones.
December 28, 2017
Our family met Mr. And Mrs McCandless on a whalewatching cruise to Baja In Mexico some years ago. Our Son and Daughter, 14 and 12 at the tme, spent quite some time in facinating discussions with them. They are 24 and 21 now and most fondly remember that time, as do we. Our deepest condolences to Mrs. McCandless and the family. This world is a much better place for having had a man like Bruce McCandless in it. Ron, Debbie, Jake and Haley Freedman
Ron,Debbie,Jake,Haley Freedman
December 28, 2017
May the GOD of all comfort be whit the falmey.
December 27, 2017
Mr Mccandless forged apath very few can follow. He realized his dream and he lived it. His legacy will live on in mankind's history. May you find comfort in the arms of our Great Comforter who comforts us in our time of sorrow.
December 27, 2017
My heartfelt condolences and prayers for the McCandless family. May Almighty God grant solace to the family during this most challenging time. With Love & Prayers ~
December 26, 2017
What an experience to jet around in space. To the Mc. Candles family I am so sorry for your loss. You must have mountain full of interesting memories from your Bruce. Please rely upon these in those difficult times ahead. May God bless and protect you.
December 26, 2017
December 25, 2017
May all who had the privilege of knowing Bruce he comforted in knowing that he will return to the days of his youth as promised at Job 33:25.
December 25, 2017
Grief can be so hard, but our special memories help us cope. Remembering you and your loved one today and always.
December 25, 2017
December 25, 2017
Karan Wider
December 25, 2017
Our family condolences to his family! I recall him well from the years he was my father's star electrical engineering student at USNA and often ate at our home on Bowyer Road there. I was still in elementary school and looked up to him. I recall that he was interested in flight and space travel. My dad was a navy pilot. These are fond memories from my childhood and I have always been amazed at his dreams fulfilled in life. What an amazing and remarkable life. Diane Wheeler-Bast
Daughter of Felix Wheeler, class of 45
Diane Wheeler-Bast
December 24, 2017

While words fail to capture the pain of losing a loved one, we look forward to the time when words will fail to capture the joy of having our heavenly Father return your dear one to you. We hope these words can be & are a source of comfort for you & your family.
December 23, 2017
"I'm very sorry for your loss. Your dear one lived a truly fascinating life. May you draw comfort through fond memories and through these comforting passages: 1 Peter 5:6,7, Hosea 13:14"
Mrs. Ta
December 23, 2017
Sad to hear about the death of Bruce McCandless II. Sincere condolences to all the family.
Michelle Fleck
December 23, 2017
Rest in Peace
Scott Chamberland
December 23, 2017
There is more happiness in giving than receiving hope for the peace of mind. Take care of your self.
December 23, 2017
Fair winds and following seas sailor.

Thank you for your service to this nation.
Harry Simpson
December 23, 2017
My deep condolences to the McCandless family. May you find comfort at Ecclesiastes 9:5,10 regarding the loss of your love one.
December 23, 2017
My deepest condolences to the Mr. McCandless' family. May the God of all comfort give you strength and peace as you go through this difficult time.
December 23, 2017
What a brave man. Soar with The angels. Rest in peace and condolences to the family.
December 23, 2017
Thank you Bruce. Thank you for everything. Thank you for feeding my hunger for space exploration. The MMU photo of you will live on forever.
Tim Shideler
December 23, 2017
My condolences to the McCandless family. Bruce led an amazing life, experiencing things that I can only dream about. May the family take comfort in each other and in God during this difficult time.
December 23, 2017
Bruce has already experienced the Heavens and the earth, it is now time to experience God's House for eternity. Rest in Peace and please say hello to all the other astronauts before you.
December 23, 2017
I want to express my condolences. I am sorry about your loss. May the God of all comfort be with you to help you and to comfort in times of need. I want to share a encouraging scripture at Jeremiah 29:11 about having thoughts of peace and to give you a future and hope. That scripture really helps me in my times of need, so I wanted to express the same scripture to give you comfort for your loss.
Tayvion Biggs
December 23, 2017
My heartfelt sympathies go out to your family and friends during this difficult time, I hope that Gods promise found at 1Thessalonians 4:14, can bring comfort.Know that there is a future for ones we have lost in death.
Sidney Jones
December 23, 2017
My condolences to the McCandless Family and friends for the loss of your dear husband, father, grandpa and friend ~ Bruce. May you continue to be blessed with his memory and legacy and may your hearts be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times you shared together (Daniel 12;13) ~ Linda, Queens, NY
December 23, 2017
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
December 23, 2017
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
December 23, 2017
To the family of Bruce McCandless: His mark on history will forever be remembered by many. May you draw strength from the God of comfort and tender mercies during this difficult time.
December 23, 2017
God Speed Bruce McCandless! Fair winds and following seas...
Eric Burcher
December 23, 2017
McCandless Family, Friends,

Please accept our condolences on the loss of your dear loved one. Keeping you all in our prayers. May the God who gives peace be with all of you.-RO.15:33
December 23, 2017
At the end of a legacy is a life of love and memories. Hold on to those memories and allow the God of comfort to provide you with the strength and love to endure the difficult days ahead.
December 23, 2017
May the God of all comfort bring solace to the family during this loss. Rest In Peace Bruce until God fullfils his promise to bring back to life all of those in his memory. M.J. Maryland.
December 23, 2017
So sorry for your loss. May the family have peace and strength from Almighty God during this time.
December 23, 2017
Condolences to the Mccandless family,
During this difficult time may you find comfort and strength in God.
December 23, 2017
My condolences to the family. I am very sorry for your loss and my prayers are with you. Always remember the good times y'all had with him! I know he will be missed by many.

gh, Fort Worth
December 23, 2017
I am so sorry for your loss. May our Creator comfort you in your time of distress.
December 23, 2017
I was and neighbor of his as a kid in El Lago.
December 23, 2017
Mr. McCandless was a brave and adventurous man. We appreciate all he did for our space history. May God bless all of you and give you strength to endure this loss. Psalm 94:19.
December 23, 2017
My condolences to the family. May the God of all comfort give you strength during this difficult time.
December 23, 2017
Another one of our heroic early space pioneers has made the next trip to the heavens. Rest In Peace, Captain McCandless, and thank you for your service and vital contributions to science and space exploration.
December 22, 2017
Put out your hand and touch the Face of God.
Harry & Lucille VanDusen
December 22, 2017
Offering my condolences. Mr. Mccandles will be missed sadly. Keep his fond memories close at heart. Thoughts and prayers.
December 22, 2017
Please accept my heartfelt condolences. It is comforting to know that your dear one is safe in the memory of God who remembers every detail about him, and bring him back again.
December 22, 2017
May the God of all peace bring comfort to the McCandless family and friends at this difficult time.
December 22, 2017
We'll miss you !
Adrian Barnette
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