Wonders All Around: The Incredible True Story of Astronaut Bruce McCandless II and the First Untethered Flight in Space by Bruce McCandless III; Greenleaf Book Group Press; 284 pages; Hardcover: $24.95.

We have all seen that iconic image – an astronaut in a snow-white spacesuit, untethered and floating free above Earth. Bruce McCandless II made that milestone-making, Buck Rogers-like space cruise in 1984 during his shuttle mission: STS-41B. As a mission specialist, McCandless controlled his movement above the Earth – and just few meters away from the space shuttle Challenger – during the first-ever spacewalk which didn’t use restrictive tethers and umbilicals.

Credit: NASA

This book is a wonderful read, written by his son, Bruce McCandless III. It is a very human tale, one that underscores the astronaut’s perseverance, setback, defeat and redemption.

The book features 22 chapters, including an excellent set of notes.

Astronaut McCandless joined NASA in 1966. He was the youngest of the new astronauts selected that year. He was chosen to be Houston’s capsule communicator for Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin when they first set foot on the Moon. An astronaut for 24 years, he went on to help design, deploy, and later repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

His son writes: “He was an engineer, a true son of science, a distant nephew of Sir Isaac Newton. He knew the formulas required for achieving orbital velocity, could tell you the fuel mixtures you needed, the stages and timing of rocket-booster separations.”

Former NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless II, mission specialist on the STS-41B and STS-31 missions, passed away on Dec. 21, 2017, at the age of 80.

Credit: NASA

The author adds his thoughts when viewing that classic image of his father suspended in the cosmos, “the ant and the ocean.”

“But I see something else in the picture as well. I see the man who named me. He’s shut off from me now, mute and unattainable, sealed up in his pressure suit, as much a mystery to me in this vision as he ever was. As much a mystery as any man is to his son, who spends his life reading the clues a father left behind and remembering his words as he tries, a hundred times, to invent his own life. I don’t remember all those words, but I do hear one. It resonates to this day. Onward.

For more information on this book, go to:


Leave a Reply