Astronaut Dale A. Gardner, getting his turn in the Manned Maneuvering Unit, prepares to dock with the spinning WESTAR VI satellite during the STS-51A mission in November 1984. Gardner used a large tool called the Apogee Kick Motor Capture Device to enter the nozzle of a spent WESTAR VI engine and stabilize the communications spacecraft sufficiently to capture it for return to Earth in the cargo bay of the space shuttle Discovery. (NASA)
McCandless Orbits in Jetpack On Feb. 12, 1984, astronaut Bruce McCandless, ventured further away from the confines and safety of his ship than any previous astronaut had ever been. This space first was made possible by a nitrogen jet propelled backpack, previously known at NASA as the Manned Manuevering Unit or MMU.
After a series of test maneuvers inside and above Challenger’s payload bay, McCandless went “free-flying” to a distance of 320 feet away from the Orbiter. This stunning orbital panorama view shows McCandless out there amongst the black and blue of Earth and space.
While anchored to a foot restraint on the end of the Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS), astronaut Scott Parazynski, STS-120 mission specialist, assesses his repair work as the solar array is fully deployed during the mission’s fourth session of extravehicular activity (EVA) while Space Shuttle Discovery is docked with the International Space Station. (November 2007, NASA via ESA)
NASA astronaut Nicholas Patrick, STS-130 mission specialist, participates in the mission’s third and final session of extravehicular activity as construction and maintenance continue on the International Space Station. (February 2010, NASA via ESA)
Astronauts Greg Chamitoff and Mike Fincke work on the exterior of the International Space Station during the fourth and final spacewalk of the STS-134 mission. The spacewalk lasted seven hours, 24 minutes. Photo credit: NASA TV