Famous astronaut’s final mission was to meet pupils in Castleford

Bruce McCandless visited Oyster Park School.
Bruce McCandless visited Oyster Park School.

An astronaut who carried out the first ever untethered spacewalk has passed away just weeks after one of his final public appearances - in Castleford.

Captain Bruce McCandless touched down at Oyster Park School in November to speak with pupils about his experiences in the American space programme.

Tributes have flooded in across the world in for the 80-year-old who passed away on December 21.

Captain McCandless chose to visit the Watling Road school through the Space Lectures organisation, which contacted schools to scope out interest in a possible visit. Oyster Park was the first to respond.

Beginning his career as a Navy flight officer, Captain McCandless was aboard the USS Enterprise when it was dispatched during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. After logging more than 5,000 jet aircraft flying hours he was selected by NASA in 1966 at the age 28.

He was a capsule communicator for Apollo 11, the first craft to land on the moon in 1969 and part of the support crew for Apollo 14, the third to land.

He was part of the crew of Challenger which launched from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida in February 1984 and spent more than eight days in orbit.

During that time Captain McCandless used the Manned Manoeuvring Unit (MMU) for the first time - a propulsion backpack that allowed astronauts to spacewalk without being tethered to the shuttle.