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Story behind 'most terrifying photo' ever taken in space is chilling

Story behind 'most terrifying photo' ever taken in space is chilling

The late Bruce McCandless II opened up about his history-making expedition before his death

An astronaut who became the main subject of NASA’s ‘most terrifying space photo’ once explained there was serious tension behind the scenes.

For many, the idea of space is daunting, what with potential alien megastructures littering the Milky Way and mysterious blobs growing outside of the International Space Station.

But what is the most terrifying thing to ever happen in space and be captured on camera?

Well, according to Nasa, it involves a lot of tension and an untethered astronaut by the name of Bruce McCandless II.

In 1984, the 80-year-old American aviator found himself the subject of the ‘most terrifying space photo’ when he and fellow astronaut Bob Stewart strapped themselves into Manned Manoeuvring Units (MMUs) and left the comfort of their ship.

These MMUs allowed the pair to move around open space untethered at around 28,900 kilometers per hour on 7 February, 1984.

Iconic photos taken from the Challenger space shuttle show McCandless freely floating above the planet Earth - a scary prospect for Astrophobia sufferers.

31 years after becoming the first human in history to make an untethered spacewalk, McCandless told The Guardian there had been tensions at Nasa about the event.

Nasa gave the picture the moniker as the 'most terrifying space photo'. (Nasa)
Nasa gave the picture the moniker as the 'most terrifying space photo'. (Nasa)

"My wife was at mission control, and there was quite a bit of apprehension,” he explained.

Despite being regarded as a horrifying moment, the late Boston-born man admitted it didn’t feel as scary as it looked.

"I wanted to say something similar to Neil [Armstrong] when he landed on the Moon, so I said, 'It may have been a small step for Neil, but it’s a heck of a big leap for me.' That loosened the tension a bit."

McCandless also joked he’d been told about the silent vacuum of space but, due to multiple people on his radio asking a myriad of questions, things were a little less than peaceful.

Moreover, he said that he hardly noticed how fast he was stepping through space at the time of his expedition.

“My walk lasted six hours 45 minutes, and I stayed alongside the shuttle the whole time, moving 100 yards one way, 100 yards back,” he told the publication.

“I was travelling at more than 18,000 miles an hour, but wasn’t aware of it, because the shuttle was going at the same speed.

The astronaut claimed he didn't know how fast he was moving. (Nasa/MMU)
The astronaut claimed he didn't know how fast he was moving. (Nasa/MMU)

“It was only when I looked at the Earth that I could tell we were moving fairly rapidly.”

He added that at one point he noticed he was travelling over the Florida peninsula and remarked how ‘reassuring’ it was to see something he recognised below.

"It was a wonderful feeling, a mix of personal elation and professional pride: it had taken many years to get to that point.”

McCandless, who died in late 2017 - logged over 312 hours in space during his heyday, including four hours of MMU flight time.

After retiring from NASA in 1990, he went on to work for the Lockheed Martin Space Systems and was buried at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis on 16 January, 2018.

Featured Image Credit: NASA

Topics: NASA, Space, Science, US News

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