Today in 1984, two US astronauts walked in space… and for the first time, they weren’t connected to anything.
Astronauts Bruce McCandless and Bob Stewart were testing out a system called the Manned Maneuvering Unit.
It was basically a 300 pound jetpack that used nitrogen thrusters to move an astronaut around in orbit.
The system had handles on each armrest so that the wearer could steer themselves in one direction or another.
The top speed was only between one and three miles per hour, but seeing as how orbiting astronauts were already moving close to 18,000 miles per hour around the Earth that was probably enough speed.
Astronauts had been spacewalking since the 1960s, but always with a tether, so that they couldn’t get too far away from their craft.
The MMU meant astronauts could go tetherless, say, if they needed to carry out repairs to a spacecraft or a satellite.
Though the astronauts were never more than about 300 feet away from the space shuttle during their spacewalks.
The photos from their walks were iconic: they were miles and miles above the earth, just flying free.
And in some ways, that’s how it felt to the astronauts.
McCandless described the spacewalk as “a mix of personal elation and professional pride.”
But since he was getting radio messages through his headset the whole time, it wasn’t quite as peaceful as the photos would suggest.
The New York Historical Society has an exhibition through early April.
It’s a display of photos and artifacts showing the history of the city’s Jewish delis.
Fans of the movie “When Harry Met Sally” will be happy to hear that the exhibit is called “I’ll Have What She’s Having.”
35 YEARS AGO: FIRST UNTETHERED SPACEWALK (Kennedy Space Center)
Photo via NASA