You have all seen the American astronaut sit beautifully in his NASA-built Modok chair. That astronaut was Bruce McCandless II, a Houston capsule communicator during a lunar landing mission. Challenger Crew members, and the driving force behind America’s ability to conduct operations outside the confines of space shuttles and international stations. Without McCandless, there is no guarantee that the United States will have Eva power today. Surprise all around, Fully researched and written by McCandless’s son Bruce III, McCandless explored the trials and tribulations of the ancients in NASA’s formative years and enabled his laser-focused astronauts to zip into space by the mass of their spacecraft.
Copyright @ 20201 Published by Bruce McCandless III Greenleaf Book Group Press. Distributed by Greenleaf Book Group. Design and composition by Greenleaf Book Group and Kimberly Lance. Cover design by Greenleaf Book Group, Shawn Venice and Kimberly Lance. Image courtesy of NASA Cover, Photo by Robert L. “Hut” Gibson
In the long days of waiting for a spaceship, my dad found a way to escape behind an old cartoon character. When he first tried the man maneuvering unit on a Martin Marietta simulator since the afternoon of December 1966, he was fascinated by a vision of a gas-powered jetpack that would allow astronauts to work outside of their spacecraft. This approach had an obvious pop-culture. In the 2020s, a comic-strip character named Buck Rogers একটি a rock-javad, an All-American World War I veteran একজন committed suicide by the impact of a mysterious gas he encountered while working as a mine inspector. He fell into a deep sleep and woke up after five centuries of sleep in the strange new world of spaceships, ray guns and Asian overlords. Although he initially traveled this new world through an antigravity belt, a device that allowed him and his best daughter Wilma to cover many distances at one time, Buck eventually achieved a clear and distinctly versatile jetpack. Eventually he enters space in the name of an adventure Mars tiger male, And its exploitation into the universe changes America’s vision for the future forever. Millions of people followed Buck’s adventures, joking, on the radio and in movie series. Buck’s imitators and spiritual heirs include Flash Gordon, Brick Bradford, John Martyr of Mars, and Han Solo.
Many talented men and women spend significant amounts of time and money trying to get that jetpack out of fun papers and into the space shuttle. Although no one worked harder than Bruce McCandless and his main collaborator, an Auburn-educated engineer and an Air Force officer named Charles Edward (“Ed”) Whitsett, Jr. Whitsett was a pale, visionary man, mild-mannered but strong-willed. He was starting a head on my dad. He was thinking and writing about jetpack technology in early 1962. In a sense, he was trying to solve a problem that still does not exist: for example, how an astronaut could venture out of his spaceship without oxygen-free environments, extreme temperature fluctuations, and an “free fall” of an orbit that would leave astronauts in a practical equivalent of zero gravity. ? Alexei Leonov of the Soviet Union and Ed White of the Americans proved that outdoor activities were possible, men could survive outside their space capsules, but basically what they did was floating. How can a person go from one part of a spaceship to another part, or from one spaceship to another craft, or from a spaceship to a satellite to inspect or repair? None of these needs really existed in the early sixties, when the programs of both nations were still trying to fire tin cans into low Earth orbit and predicting, more or less, where they would return. But obviously the needs would eventually arise and different methods were proposed to address them.
In the mid-sixties, the Air Force hired NASA Whitset to oversee the development of the Air Force’s aerospace maneuvering unit. Jean Cernan AMU’s failed test flight to Gemini 9 in 1966 – “Space-Walk to Hell”, which Cernan called – delayed the Jetpack project, but it never left. A NASA engineer named McCandless, Whitset and Dave Schultz worked tirelessly but firmly to keep the dream alive. They made AMU bigger and better in the late half of the decade and in the seventies. In the story of the “Forgotten Astronaut” cable that portrayed him as a washout in 1973, my father mentioned the reasons why he wanted to stay in the human space program even though he hadn’t been hired by Apollo or Skylab. “McCandless,” the article said, “helped develop the M509 experimental steering unit. Skylab astronauts tied it up like a backpack and propelled themselves around Buck Rogers – like Skylab interior.” [He] Wants to build a large operational unit to work in space outside the shuttle. And that’s exactly what he did.
Although the Skylab M509 tests in 1973 and 1974 were a great success, resulting in the victory of the jetpack concept over both rocket boots and handheld maneuvering units, Whitset and McCandless did not rest on their laurels. Over the next few years, using as much time and funds as they could together, the team made multiple upgrades – eleven, one count – now called the “Manned Managing Unit” or MMU. ASMU’s bulbous nitrogen-gas fuel tank was replaced with two streamline aluminum tanks at the back of the unit, each wrapped in a Kevlar. The number of propulsion nozzles was increased from fourteen to twenty-four, allowing six-degree-of-freedom accuracy to run around the jetpack. The small gyroscopes used at ASMU have been replaced, and as noted by astronomer Andrew Chaikin, ASMU’s “pistol-grip hand controller, which was tired of working in pressed space suit gloves, needed smaller T-handles at the fingertips.” “MMU’s new arm units have been adapted to accommodate astronauts of all sizes. Painted white for maximum reflection, the unit was designed to withstand temperature fluctuations of 500 degrees (from 250 degrees Fahrenheit to minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit!) That could face astronauts in space.
By 1980 the machine weighed 326 pounds. Prior to AMU and ASMU, MMU was designed to be with or “over” the astronaut’s pressure suit. Shuttle astronauts wore a newly designed suit called the Extravehicular Maneuvering Unit or EMU, a two-piece marble of textile engineering consisting of fourteen layers of nylon ripstop, Gore-Tex, Kevlar, Myler and other materials. Two 16.8-volt silver-zinc batteries were supplied for Jetpack’s electronics. Two motion-control handles ট্র translational hand controllers and rotational hand controllers-were mounted on the unit’s left and right armrests, respectively, and a button activates an “attitude-hold mode” Thrusts to maintain.
The machine was tested in every way its designers could have imagined. Martin Marietta, a representative of a local gun club, visited and fired a .50 caliber bullet at the MMU’s nitrogen fuel tank to make sure the tank would explode if pierced. (It didn’t.) The jetpack was run through hundreds of hours of simulation. At my father’s urging, a talented and intense Martin project manager named Bill Bolendonk placed the device in a space-like condition with the company’s thermal vacuum facility. MMU was no longer an “extrovert” test, as Mike Collins once said. It was now a promising space tool. Unfortunately, for the moment, it was still an unused space tool. American astronauts remained on Earth as NASA fought to create its next-generation orbital workhorse, the space shuttle.
All products offered by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories have affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we can earn an affiliate commission.