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Bruce McCandless II
BM II.jpg
NASA Astronaut
Status Retired
Born June 8, 1937 (1937-06-08) (age 72)
Boston, Massachusetts
Other occupation Engineer, Naval pilot
Rank Captain, United States Navy
Time in space 13d 00h 31m
Selection 1966 NASA Group
Missions STS-41-B, STS-31
Mission insignia Sts-41-b-patch.pngSts-31-patch.png

Bruce McCandless II (born June 8, 1937 in Boston, Massachusetts) is a former naval aviator with the United States Navy and former NASA astronaut. During the first of his two Space Shuttle missions he made the first untethered, free flight using the Manned Maneuvering Unit.



McCandless is the son of Bruce McCandless, a decorated United States Navy hero from World War II. He graduated from Woodrow Wilson Senior High School, Long Beach, California. With his father having been awarded the Medal of Honor, McCandless was assured of being appointed to a military academy. In 1958 he received a bachelor of science degree from the United States Naval Academy, followed by a master of science degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1965. In 1987 he received a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Houston‚ÄďClear Lake.

United States Navy

McCandless graduated second in a class of 899 from the Naval Academy (Class of 1958), along with John McCain and John Poindexter. Subsequently, he received flight training from the Naval Aviation Training Command at bases in Pensacola, Florida, and Kingsville, Texas.

In March 1960 he was designated a naval aviator and proceeded to NAS Key West, for weapons system and carrier landing training in the F-6A Skyray.

Between December 1960 and February 1964 he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 102 (VF-102), flying the Skyray and the F-4B Phantom II. He saw duty aboard USS Forrestal and USS Enterprise, including the latter's participation in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

For three months in early 1964, he was an instrument flight instructor in Attack Squadron 43 (VA-43) at NAS Oceana, and then reported to the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Unit at Stanford University for graduate studies in electrical engineering.

During naval service he gained flying proficiency in the T-33B Shooting Star, T-38A Talon, F-4B Phantom II, F-6A Skyray, F-11 Tiger, TF-9J Cougar, T-1 Seastar, and T-34B Mentor airplane, and the Bell 47G helicopter. He logged more than 5,200 hours flying time‚ÄĒ5,000 hours in jet aircraft.

NASA career

McCandless was one of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. He was a member of the astronaut support crew for the Apollo 14 mission, served as CAPCOM during the Apollo 11 mission when Neil Armstrong first set his foot on the moon and was backup pilot for the first manned Skylab mission (SL-1/SL-2). He was a co-investigator on the M-509 astronaut maneuvering unit experiment which was flown in the Skylab Program, and collaborated on the development of the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) used during Shuttle EVAs.

He was responsible for crew inputs to the development of hardware and procedures for the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), Space Telescope, the Solar Maximum Repair Mission, and the Space Station Program.

McCandless logged over 312 hours in space, including four hours of MMU flight time. He flew as a mission specialist on STS-41-B and STS-31.

Spaceflight experience



This famous image shows McCandless using the MMU during STS-41-B in 1984.

Challenger launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on February 3, 1984. The flight deployed two communications satellites, and flight-tested rendezvous sensors and computer programs for the first time.

This mission marked the first checkout of the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) and Manipulator Foot Restraint (MFR). McCandless made the first, untethered, free flight on each of the two MMUs carried on board.

After eight days in orbit, Challenger made the first landing on the runway at Kennedy Space Center on February 11, 1984.


On this five-day Discovery flight, launched on April 24, 1990 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the crew deployed the Hubble Space Telescope from their record-setting altitude of 380 miles (612 km).

Discovery landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on April 29, 1990.

Awards and honors

He was awarded a patent for the design of a tool tethering system that is currently used during Shuttle spacewalks.


He is a fellow of the American Astronautical Society and former president of the Houston Audubon Society.

Bruce McCandless, February 2009


McCandless married Bernice Doyle, and the couple have two grown children. His recreational interests include electronics, photography, scuba diving, and flying. He also enjoys cross country skiing.

External links


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