CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The first man to fly freely and untethered in space, famously photographed alone in the cosmic blackness above a blue Earth, was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Retired astronaut Bruce McCandless became the first so-called human satellite in 1984. The dramatic scene of McCandless flying with a hefty spacewalker's jetpack, but with his face invisible behind his helmet, remains one of the greatest space photos.
"For those of you who work here or have worked here at the Kennedy Space Center, I have a few words: thank you, thank you and thank you," McCandless, 67, told the hundreds gathered for the afternoon ceremony.
His shuttle commander, former astronaut Vance Brand, said he was glued to the window as McCandless jetted around outside.
"I knew I couldn't come back and tell Bernice that we'd lost Bruce," Brand said, referring to McCandless' wife of almost 45 years.