NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 14 May 2023: Iconic first free flight in space! | Tech News

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 14 May 2023: Iconic first free flight in space!

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day for May 14 has remembered the iconic and first image of a free flight in space. Who is in this image? Read on.

| Updated on: May 14 2023, 15:34 IST
Fascinating NASA Astronomy Pictures of the Week: Dancer Galaxy, Milky Way and more
1/5 Spanish Dancer Galaxy: On May 8th, NASA shared a mesmerizing view of the Spanish Dancer Spiral Galaxy (NGC 1566). Within the galaxy are blue star clusters and dark cosmic dust lanes which follow two prominent spiral arms. (NASA/ESA/Hubble/Detlev Odenthal)
2/5 Earth casts a double shadow: On May 9th, NASA shared a snapshot of the Earth with double shadows captured during a lunar eclipse. The section in the middle is called the Belt of Venus.  (NASA/ Marcella Giulia Pace Sampieri)
3/5 Milky Way Galaxy visible in Egyptian Desert's skies: How does the Milky Way Galaxy get its name? Greeks said this white streak was a "river of milk". The ancient Romans called it the Via Galactica, or "road made of milk". (NASA/Amr Abdelwahab)
4/5 Fomalhaut's debris disk: It brings a snapshot of the dusty debris disk which surrounds Fomalhaut, which is located just 25 light-years away.  (NASA/ESA/JWST/Andras Gaspar/Alyssa Pagan)
5/5 Halley's Dust in the night sky: The remnants of the periodic Comet Halley's debris streams left a surreal view for all stargazers.  (Petr Horalek / Institute of Physics in Opava)
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This image looks back at the first astronaut who flew untethered in space. (NASA, STS-41B)

How does it feel to fly in space without any attachments to a spaceship? Surreal, right? The experience can be literally out of this world - flying freely in the vastness of the cosmos! Such untethered spacewalks are pivotal in various space missions, enabling astronauts to perform tasks such as satellite deployment, repair, scientific experiments, and more.

Today's NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day is a snapshot of a famous Astronaut Bruce McCandless II flying freely in space! McCandless II found himself living the dream, flying approximately 100 meters away from the cargo bay of the space shuttle Challenger. Drifting farther into the expanse of space than anyone had ventured before, he embodied the epitome of exploration, NASA explained while sharing the photo.

In the year 1984, during Space Shuttle mission 41-B, McCandless, alongside fellow NASA astronaut Robert Stewart, became the pioneer of the "untethered space walk" guided by a Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU). The MMU relied on jets of nitrogen as a propellant and played a crucial role in satellite deployment and retrieval. "With a mass over 140 kilograms, an MMU is heavy on Earth, but, like everything, is weightless when drifting in orbit. The MMU was later replaced with the SAFER backpack propulsion unit," NASA mentioned.

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FIRST astronaut to fly untethered

This spacewalk by Astronaut Bruce McCandless II is iconic as he became the first astronaut to fly untethered from his spacecraft. Sadly, he passed away on Dec. 21, 2017, at the age of 80.

His contributions extended beyond that extraordinary moment captured in the photograph. McCandless served as a mission specialist on two space shuttle missions. During STS-41B in 1984, he embarked on the famous spacewalk, showcasing his remarkable courage and skill. Subsequently, on STS-31 in 1990, he played a crucial role in the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope, a monumental achievement that expanded our understanding of the universe. NASA has informed that McCandless logged more than 312 hours in space, including four hours of flight time using the MMU.

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First Published Date: 14 May, 15:20 IST