This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

Untethered Human Flies 17,500 MPH

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February 7, 1984: First Untethered Space Walk

Astronauts Bruce McCandless II and Robert L. Stewart make the first untethered space walk using the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU). McCandless became the first human Earth-orbiting satellite, venturing out 320 feet from the orbiter.

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While in orbit 170 miles above Earth, Navy Captain Bruce McCandless becomes the first human being to fly untethered in space when he exits the U.S. space shuttle Challenger and maneuvers freely, using a bulky white rocket pack of his own design.

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McCandless orbited Earth in tangent with the shuttle at speeds greater than 17,500 miles per hour and flew up to 320 feet away from the Challenger. After an hour and a half testing and flying the jet-powered backpack and admiring Earth, McCandless safely reentered the shuttle

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McCandless looks a bit like Tom Hanks

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Stewart

Stewart

Later that day, Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Stewart tried out the rocket pack, which was a device regarded as an important step toward future operations to repair and service orbiting satellites and to assemble and maintain large space stations. It was the fourth orbital mission of the space shuttle Challenger.

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