Wonders All Around
The Incredible True Story of Astronaut Bruce McCandless II and the First Untethered Flight in Space
by Bruce McCandless III
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 13 Jul 2021 | Archive Date 30 Jul 2021
Greenleaf Book Group, Greenleaf Book Group Press
The Man You Never Knew You Knew
It’s one of the most powerful and popular images in the history of space exploration: an astronaut in a snow-white spacesuit, untethered and floating alone in an expanse of blue. Bruce McCandless II is the man in that spacesuit, and Wonders All Around: The Incredible True Story of Astronaut Bruce McCandless II and the First Untethered Flight in Space is the thoroughly engrossing, extensively researched story of his inspiring life and groundbreaking accomplishments, as told by his son, a gifted writer and storyteller.
Bruce McCandless II, a Navy fighter pilot, joined NASA in 1966. He was Houston’s capsule communicator—the person talking to the astronauts—as Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong made his giant leap for mankind in 1969. McCandless supported subsequent Apollo flights and developed technology and techniques his fellow astronauts used during the Skylab program, working behind the scenes until he was chosen to ride Challenger into space on the tenth shuttle mission. When he stepped into the cosmos to test the Manned Maneuvering Unit, he became a space flight icon. But the road to that incredible feat was not the sure bet it should have been for such a gifted man.
Bruce McCandless II was an astronaut for 24 years, and his story encompasses the development of the space agency itself—the changes in focus, in personnel, in approach, and in the city of Houston that grew up with it.
Wonders All Around is more than a catalogue of McCandless’s extraordinary achievements, which included work on the design, deployment, and repair of the Hubble Space Telescope. It is also a tale of perseverance and devotion.
Recounted with insight and humor, this book explores the relationship between a father and a son, men of two very different generations. And finally, it is an exploration of the mindset of one unique individual, and the courage, imagination, and tenacity that propelled him and his country to their place in the forefront of space history.
From Wonders All Around:
"Bruce McCandless turned his Jeep around and screeched out of the cul-de-sac in front of our house for the ten-minute drive to the space center. The moon, a waxing crescent, was standing thirty degrees above the western horizon, and my father slipped into a sort of reverie as he sped toward it on NASA Road One. The moon floated serene and imperturbable in front of him like a black-and-white photograph of itself, Earth’s gravitational remora, her pale silent sister, movie star and legend, goddess and mirage. Bruce McCandless had just turned thirty-two. 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. He brushed sentiments away like so many spider webs. But even he was having trouble believing that human beings—his colleagues and friends—were up there in the sky, getting ready to do something no one had ever done before. He was going to be part of it. He would be talking to two men as they walked on the moon. The young astronaut hadn’t quite reached his lifelong goal of touching the lunar surface, but he was close. He was almost there.
He could feel it."
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Average rating from 5 members
As a lover of space and space exploration, I really loved everything about this book! Wonders All Around is an excellent biography of the first untethered flight in space and an excellent tale of Bruce McCandless II's achievements and the road to the first untethered space flight. A definite must-read for lovers of space!
This book is the biography of astronaut Bruce McCandless II, written by his son, Bruce McCandless III. McCandless gained notoriety after his untethered spacewalk on Feb. 7, 1984, which was the first time that this had been done. The book has 22 chapters, with a foreword by astronaut Chris Kelly. There is also a list of Notable Dates before Chapter 1, which lists events that happened in the life of Bruce McCandless II, and other events in NASA history. The first chapter describes McCandless in the early 1970s, being frustrated by the fact that he hadn't been picked for any Apollo or Skylab missions, while everyone else in his class had been chosen. The next few chapters take us back in time to describe family history, from McCandless II's great-grandfather being killed by Wild Bill Hickok, to the distinguished naval careers of his father and grandfather. McCandless II and his father were even stationed at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack in 1941. We learn later about his time in the Naval Academy, his marriage, his interest in the newly formed NASA, and his return to school to get a Master's degree in electrical engineering. The rest of the book further describes the life and career of McCandless II, and to a lesser extent the life of his son, the author, McCandless III. By chapter 13, McCandless finally gets assigned to his spacewalk mission, and his dreams of finally blasting off into space become a reality. Chapter 14 details the mission, and the groundbreaking maneuvers McCandless was able to perform, while chapter 15 deals with the Challenger disaster that came shortly afterward and changed NASA forever. We learn about his later involvement with the Hubble Space Telescope launch, and his career in the aerospace industry with Lockheed Martin after leaving NASA. The last few chapters deals with his wife eventually succumbing to cancer, and then McCandless himself passing away at the end of 2017. This was great biography of a truly remarkable astronaut, and legendary figure in the aerospace industry. I learned so much about McCandless, and about the early days of NASA. I wish there had been a few more pictures, but I definitely enjoyed reading this book.
4.5* I find it fitting I finished reading this book on July 20th, the 52nd anniversary of Apollo 11, the mission that landed man on the moon, and the one that Bruce McCandless worked as CapCom. As a bit of a space junkie, although I've sadly let that interest wane in the recent years, I'm embarrassed to admit that Mr. McClandless is one astronaut I wasn't really familiar with, although I've definitely seen his iconic photo! At times both entertaining and educational, Wonders All Around: The Incredible True Story of Astronaut Bruce McCandless II and the First Untethered Flight in Space, is a must read for fans of the Space Race, space exploration in general, and for a look into the human spirit. Mr. McCandless is a man who never gave up on his dream, even though that dream didn't quite come to fruition in the way he hoped. I really enjoyed learning about Mr. McCandless, both the man and the astronaut. I appreciated the care and the detail his son put into this book, painting a picture of his father that really brought him to life. From his early years until his death in 2017, Wonders All Around takes us on a journey through the ups & downs and the highs & lows of Mr. Candless's life, while also giving us a glimpse into the life of an astronaut's family. At one point while reading I made an update that I wish photos had been included in the book, and I was happy to find when I got to the end of the ebook that there were in facts photos! A bonus would have been if they had been interspersed in the chapters they related to, but it was nice to see them nevertheless. Every time I read a book on the Space Race, whether it's one about a particular astronaut or just that period in general, it makes me wish I had been around during that time, to have been able to experience the excitement and wonder of it all. With Wonders All Around: The Incredible True Story of Astronaut Bruce McCandless II and the First Untethered Flight in Space, the reader's been given a chance to see into a life that most of us will never live. Onward!
Review of eBook Navy fighter pilot Bruce McCandless II joined NASA as part of Astronaut Group 5 in 1966; three years later, he served as the capsule communicator [capcom] for Apollo 11 when Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin walked on the moon. As he worked and trained, he hoped, but McCandless had no idea when he could expect a crew assignment. So, despite the frustration of not being chosen as part of a crew, he continued to train until, some eighteen years later, he would finally be selected as part of a shuttle flight crew. That first flight, STS-41B aboard Space Shuttle “Challenger,” launched on 03 February 1984 and placed Bruce firmly in the pages of space history as, four days later, he made the first untethered spacewalk [traveling some three hundred twenty feet away from the Orbiter] in Earth orbit with the Manned Maneuvering Unit. The iconic photograph of the astronaut, seemingly hanging in space, continues to inspire today. Six years later, McCandless flew into space once again, this time on 24 April 1990 aboard Space Shuttle “Discovery” as part of the STS-31 crew responsible for deploying the Hubble Space Telescope. His long and storied career both in and out of NASA, is an inspiring story of hopes, disappointments, frustration, and persistence. This book . . . part memoir, part family biography, part American space history . . . serves as a loving, heartfelt tribute to a supremely talented man who dreamed of spaceflight even as it reveals the complexities of growing up in the McCandless family. Readers can compare events in McCandless’s life with various NASA events, creating a unique dual timeline of events in the astronaut’s life and in NASA’s programs. The inspiring story of Bruce McCandless’s life, both professional and family, creates a compelling, can’t-put-it-down reading experience. A montage of photographs, both family and NASA, are included in the book. Also included: a list of notable dates related to Bruce McCandless’s life that highlight his dedication to the space program as well as his perseverance as he strove to accomplish his goals. Highly recommended, especially for space enthusiasts. I received a free copy of this eBook from Greenleaf Book Group and NetGalley #WondersAllAround #NetGalley