September 27, 2023

Taylor Daily Press

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This astronaut dared to do just that in 1984

This astronaut dared to do just that in 1984

Astronaut Bruce McCandless broke a record on February 7, 1984. He flew within 100 meters of the space shuttle Challenger. At that time, it was not connected to the shuttle. McCandless used what’s called a manned maneuvering unit: a nitrogen-containing jetpack.

The unique jetpack was designed and built by Lockheed Martin. The MMU has been used many times by astronauts to fly around the space shuttle. For example, with a jetpack, astronauts can take satellites and other objects to the space shuttle for repair or transport to Earth. Bruce McCandless was the first astronaut to try an MMU in 1984.

Of course, many beautiful photos of astronauts were taken with the MMU. Above you can see the space image for the week. McCandless floats alone above the Earth’s surface. The contrast with the gloomy black universe is great. The photo below is also great. Astronaut Dale Gardner moves the Westar VI satellite into the shuttle’s payload bay.

Unfortunately, MMU is not used much. After the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, the US Space Agency deemed it too dangerous to continue using this bag. Today, astronauts are always attached to a safety line during spacewalks. In this way, the astronaut cannot move away from a spacecraft or station. Astronauts often use other tools — such as a robotic arm — to perform tasks during spacewalks.

Would you like to see MMU in real life? You have to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Three copies have survived, two of which have already been used in space. One can be seen in it National Air and Space Museum in Washington. Other copies hang at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville (Alabama) and the Johnson Space Center.

Over the past few decades, space telescopes and satellites have taken beautiful pictures of nebulae, galaxies, star nurseries, and planets. Every weekend, we relive an amazing space photo from the archives. Enjoy all the pictures? Show them on this page.