Navy captain becomes the first human to perform an untethered space walk

Navy captain becomes the first human to perform an untethered space walk

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While in orbit 170 miles above Earth, Navy Captain Bruce McCandless II becomes the first human being to perform an untethered space walk, when he exits the U.S. space shuttle Challenger and maneuvers freely, using a bulky white rocket pack of his own design. McCandless orbited Earth in tangent with the shuttle at speeds greater than 17,500 miles per hour—the speed at which satellites normally orbit Earth—and flew up to 320 feet away from the Challenger. After an hour and a half testing and flying the jet-powered backpack and admiring Earth, McCandless safely reentered the shuttle.

Later that day, Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Stewart tried out the rocket pack, which was a device regarded as an important step toward future operations to repair and service orbiting satellites and to assemble and maintain large space stations. It was the fourth orbital mission of the space shuttle Challenger.

READ MORE: Space Exploration: Timeline and Technologies

Wally Schirra

Walter Marty Schirra Jr. ( / ʃ ɜːr ˈ ɑː / , March 12, 1923 – May 3, 2007) was an American naval aviator, test pilot, and NASA astronaut. In 1959, he became one of the original seven astronauts chosen for Project Mercury, which was the United States' first effort to put human beings into space. On October 3, 1962, he flew the six-orbit, nine-hour, Mercury-Atlas 8 mission, in a spacecraft he nicknamed Sigma 7. At the time of his mission in Sigma 7, Schirra became the fifth American and ninth human to travel into space. In the two-man Gemini program, he achieved the first space rendezvous, station-keeping his Gemini 6A spacecraft within 1 foot (30 cm) of the sister Gemini 7 spacecraft in December 1965. In October 1968, he commanded Apollo 7, an 11-day low Earth orbit shakedown test of the three-man Apollo Command/Service Module and the first crewed launch for the Apollo program.

He was the first astronaut to go into space three times, and the only astronaut to have flown in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. [1] In total, Schirra logged 295 hours and 15 minutes in space. After Apollo 7, he retired as a captain from the U.S. Navy as well as from NASA, subsequently becoming a consultant to CBS News in the network's coverage of following Apollo flights. Schirra joined Walter Cronkite as co-anchor for all seven of NASA's Moon landing missions.

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McCandless earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1965 and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Houston at Clear Lake in 1987.

The MMU device used by McCandless for the untethered spacewalk was designed, built and tested by Lockheed Martin at its Waterton Canyon facility and NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

After retiring from the space program, McCandless became chief scientist of Lockheed’s Advanced Space Systems program in Colorado. He retired from Lockheed in 2006. McCandless was a Conifer area resident since the mid-1990s. In January 2014, McCandless wife of 53-years, Bernice, died at the age of 76.

His survivors include his wife, Ellen Shields McCandless, of Conifer his son, Bruce McCandless III, of Austin, Texas his daughter, Tracy McCandless, of Islamorada, Fla. and two granddaughters.

NASA History

Edward Higgins White, II was born on November 14, 1930 in San Antonio, Texas. His father was a West Point graduate who served in the United States Air Force. He became known as a pioneer in aeronautics, beginning his military career by flying U.S. Army balloons. As the years went by and more emphasis was placed on powered flight, he switched to flying powered aircraft. By the time he retired from the Air Force, White's father had earned the rank of major general.

White's parents instilled a variety of personal qualities in their son. They taught him the value of self discipline, persistence and single minded dedication. They also modeled to him the importance of seasoning such a highly focused life with a good dose of laughter and fun. White learned his lessons well and successfully used these qualities throughout his personal and professional life.

At the age of twelve, when most other boys were flying model airplanes, Ed went up in an old T-6 trainer with his father. It was an experience he would long remember. Even though "he was barely old enough to strap on a parachute" (2) his father allowed him to take over the controls of the plane. Ed recalled that "it felt like the most natural thing in the world to do." (3) Rather than experiencing a crippling sense of fear, the twelve year old boy displayed a sense of calm confidence which was the product of the main lesson his parents had taught him: Set a goal, believe in your heart and soul that you can achieve it and then work to accomplish it.

Because Ed's father was a career military officer, the family moved numerous times to various Air Force bases around the country. As a result, Ed learned to adjust to new situations, people and places. Ed was considered to be a very good student and an excellent athlete in whatever school he attended. In fact, the constant shuffling from one Air Force post to another did not create any major difficulties for White until he was enrolled in Western High School in Washington, D.C. Once he began researching the admission policies at his college of choice, the lack of a continuous residency presented an obstacle.

The White family had a long and proud history of service in the various branches of the military. In addition to his father's career in the Air Force, two of Ed's uncles had solid careers in the Army and Marines. West Point had graduated two members of the White family "and there never seemed to be any question that I would go there too. But most military families don't have a permanent residence so we didn't have a congressman to appoint me to the Academy." (4)

White knew that he would need to be sponsored as an at-large appointee if he was going to follow in his father's and uncle's footsteps and attend West Point. In order to obtain the coveted appointment, Ed would "go up and down the halls of Congress knocking on doors. [and] finally knocked on enough doors to get an appointment". (5) Following his high school graduation, the United States Military Academy at West Point opened its doors to Edward H. White, II , the newest member of the White clan to walk down its hallowed halls.

While attending West Point, White continued to perform in both academics and athletics. He starred as a half-back on the soccer team. He made the track team as a hurdler and set a West Point record in the 400 meter hurdles. He barely missed getting a spot on the 1952 United States Olympic track team. He devoted himself to an established daily regimen for maintaining physical fitness which kept his five foot eleven inch frame in superb condition.

Ed also made time for activities other than studying and training for athletic competitions. While attending a football weekend at West Point, he met Patricia Eileen Finegan. In time, Pat, a petite blonde woman from Washington, D.C., became Mrs. Edward White, II.

In 1952, White graduated from West Point with a bachelor of science degree and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. After receiving flight instructions, he earned his wings. Soon afterwards, he was transferred to Germany. While serving abroad, White established himself as an accomplished pilot by flying F-86 Sabre jets as well as the newer F-100 fighter jets. In addition, White successfully completed the Air Force Survival School in Bad Tolz, Germany.

Then in 1957, Ed White read an article that described the role of future astronauts. "The article was written with tongue in cheek, but something told me: this is it - this is the type of thing you're cut out for. From then on everything I did seemed to be preparing me for space flight." (6) The fact of the matter was that, at that moment, Ed White decided that becoming an astronaut was his newest goal and he carefully planned his future activities in order to achieve that goal.

After serving for three and one half years in Germany, White returned to the United States with his wife and two children, Edward and Bonnie Lynn. By this time, Ed was convinced that an advanced degree would give him an edge over other men against whom he would be competing for a spot on the roster of astronauts. Therefore, he enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Michigan. He received his MS degree in aeronautical engineering in 1959.

That same year, NASA selected its original seven astronauts for Project Mercury, the first U.S. manned space program. With their selection, it became clear that test pilot credentials would be a prerequisite for those seeking to become part of the astronaut corps. Accordingly, White enrolled in the Air Force Test Pilot School at California's Edwards AFB. He received his test pilot credentials in 1959 and was transferred to Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio where he was assigned as an experimental test pilot in the Aeronautical System Division. While at Wright-Patterson, White "made flight tests for research and weapons systems development, wrote technical engineering reports and made recommendations for improvement in aircraft design and construction". (7)

By the time White was serving as a test pilot in Ohio, the seven Project Mercury astronauts were immersed in training. One of the most crucial training exercises was designed to prepare them for the weightlessness which they would experience during space flight. Three planes were used to provide the astronauts with brief periods of weightlessness: the Air Force C-131, C-135 and F-100F. Ed White piloted several of these flights. "I flew the big Air Force cargo planes through weightless maneuvers to test what happens to a pilot in zero-gravity. Two of my passengers were John Glenn and Deke Slayton, who were practicing weightless flying for Project Mercury. Two other passengers of mine were Ham and Enos, the chimps that went up before the Astronauts." (8)

As Project Mercury was coming to a successful close and Project Gemini began to emerge, it became clear that an additional group of astronauts would be required to meet the goals of the intermediate space program. In April 1962, NASA began recruiting. Most of the basic requirements remained the same. NASA was looking for male test pilots who had extensive flight experience in jet aircraft. Candidates needed to possess at least a bachelor's degree in engineering or one of the physical sciences. However, the maximum age limit was reduced from forty to thirty-five and the maximum height was increased from five feet, eleven inches to six feet. Additionally, civilian test pilots would be eligible to apply. As with Project Mercury, candidates completed numerous physical and psychological tests. In September 1962, the final selection was made and NASA added its newest members to the roster of astronauts. Air Force Captain Edward H. White, II, "who liked to set high goals and then drive for them" (9) reached his goal by edging out over two hundred other applicants to win the title of Astronaut. Eight other test pilots also earned a place on NASA's final list:

Mr. Neil A. Armstrong
Major Frank Borman, U.S. Air Force
Lieutenant Charles Conrad, U.S. Navy
Lieutenant Commander James A. Lovell, Jr., U.S. Navy
Captain James A. McDivitt, U.S. Air Force
Mr. Elliot See, Jr.
Captain Thomas P. Stafford, U.S. Air Force
Lieutenant Commander John W. Young, U.S. Navy

After being selected as part of the second group of astronauts, Ed White and his family followed the trend and moved to Texas to be near the future Manned Space Center. Ed chose a home in the Houston suburb of El Lago. White had seen the rousing parades and media blitz which surrounded the Project Mercury astronauts and their families, but he was not prepared for the attention he and his friend, Jim McDivitt would receive upon their arrival in Houston. As he made final arrangements for the purchase of his home, neighborhood children started to gather nearby. The youngsters asked if he was an astronaut. As soon as they received an affirmative reply, "the kids ran up and down the street yelling, 'Astronauts are in the house!' When White and McDivitt came out, the children asked for their autographs. After obliging, both expressed surprise. that anyone would want their autograph, because they hadn't done anything". (10) White "looked upon himself as a member of a team. as an engineering cog in a vast technical program" (11) rather than a hero to be followed around. Additionally, he just barely had been selected. Autographs and attention seemed out of place and premature.

Once they were formally part of the program, the nine new men were sized up fairly quickly by their seven predecessors. All members of the second group were judged to be highly skilled pilots. It was also evident that on the average, the second group had a greater level of formal education than the original Mercury astronauts. Nonetheless, even among a group of high achievers, Ed White stood out among the crowd. He was seen as "a man who, when asked an intelligent question, will answer thoughtfully and to the point, but will rarely volunteer information". (12) The "old hands from Project Mercury picked him as the guy to watch". (13)

Because he already was deeply involved in the Gemini program in September 1962, Gus Grissom was assigned to supervise the new recruits. Grissom gave credit where credit was due in his evaluation of the newcomers: "They're all talented. In fact, when one of them comes up with a new answer for some problem, I think they are a lot smarter than our original group of seven". (14) However, it was made crystal clear from day one that because no one in the second group had trained specifically for space flight, let alone actually flown in space, they were the new kids on the block. "On one occasion, Grissom crisply advised one youngster: Don't feel so smart. You're just an astronaut trainee." (15)

Bolstered by the information and experience gained in Project Mercury, NASA adopted a new training program which was much more advanced, refined and rigorous than previous space flight preparations. Ed White and his fellow trainees soon found themselves participating in a variety of exercises designed to anticipate Project Gemini, the next stage of U.S. manned space flight.

Training began by familiarizing the new members of the astronaut corps with details gathered from Project Mercury. They gained hands on experience with the Mercury spacecraft systems and hardware. They learned about flight operations and associated inflight tasks. They toured the facilities at Cape Kennedy, including the tracking systems and launch areas. Titan, Atlas, Agena and Saturn became part of their vocabulary as they became familiar with the various boosters associated with the space program.

Formal classroom instruction was an integral part of the Gemini training so that astronauts would be able "to do scientific tasks and talk intelligently with PhD scientists in every field". (16) Thus, astronauts participated in intensive training in the fields of physics, geology, anatomy and physiology, astronomy, meteorology, aerodynamics, flight mechanics, guidance and navigation, mathematics and communications, among others. The educational component proved to be taxing even for a group of men whose IQ level averaged out to approximately 135.

After completing the required classroom instruction, each of the Gemini astronauts was assigned to specialize in a particular aspect of space flight. This allowed each astronaut to be directly involved in an integral part of engineering development. In addition, because of the vast number of tasks associated with the Gemini program, this specialization encouraged excellent time management practices. By delegating areas of responsibility throughout the entire astronaut corps, the agency was able to reduce drastically the amount of time required to cover the entire operating system adequately. Through the effective use of briefings, staff meetings and conferences, all members of the team could stay well informed about all areas of program and systems operations, regardless of their area of specialization. Even with effective delegation of tasks, Ed felt that "the day just isn't long enough to do everything I'd like to". (17)

Ed White was assigned to specialize "in the design and development of spacecraft flight control systems and related equipment". (18) White thoroughly enjoyed his specialty area "because it involves the pilot's own touch - the human connection with the spacecraft and the way he maneuvers it". (19) The so-called "pilot's touch" was extremely important to Ed White as a test pilot. He clearly understood that a marriage between man and machine was absolutely necessary in order to achieve the goal of reaching the moon. However, he stood equally convicted that "the important thing is that man - not an automatic machine - is the primary system in space flight". (20) Yet for White, the "pilot's touch" went beyond the nuts and bolts of space travel and reached into the core of his being. "A lot of us here on earth are getting pretty curious about what the moon's made of, and you'll never satisfy man's curiosity unless a man goes himself." (21)

One of the biggest frustrations that Ed encountered during training, however, did involve the mechanical aspect of the "pilot's touch". Each of the simulators was equipped with a different kind of hand control stick. As a result, Ed found that the astronauts needed to devote portions of their training time simply to adjust to each control stick and get the feel of it. White judged this to be a misuse of precious time and began "campaigning for a controller that is basically similar for all the vehicles in the program. It seemed inconceivable to me that, as some people had suggested, an Astronaut would fly toward the moon in the Apollo using one kind of stick, then climb into the LEM, our lunar landing craft, and use a different kind of controller to land him on the moon". (22) White's persistence paid off with the creation of "a type of controller that I believe we can use in all of the vehicles. It will feel the same, and when we move it, it will give basically the same response". (23)

Survival training also played an important part in the Gemini training program. Astronauts were drilled in handling potential crises on both land and sea. They learned how to leave a sinking capsule and successfully use a life raft in case they encountered an emergency after splashdown. In addition, they became skilled in techniques which would help them survive in the unlikely event that their spacecraft landed on the ground instead of in the ocean. Ed White and his colleagues learned how to fashion clothing from parachutes which would protect them from the intense heat of the Nevada desert. They were dropped in pairs from helicopters into the depths of the steamy Panamanian rain forest where cooked iguana, roasted boa constrictor and palm hearts were the daily luncheon specials.

Keeping in excellent physical condition was a top priority for the Gemini astronauts, as well. This focus merely reinforced Ed White's lifelong commitment to maintaining his physical health and strength. In spite of his busy training schedule, Ed continued to participate in swimming, handball, volleyball, squash and golf. He began his day with at least a one mile run. Rather than drive from his home to the Manned Space Center in Houston, White often opted to bicycle the three mile stretch. While jogging, White liked to squeeze a hard rubber ball in order to increase the strength in his hands and arms. He installed a forty foot climbing rope in the backyard of his home and tackled it on a regular basis. "He could knock off fifty sit-ups and fifty pushups without a whimper." (24) Without a doubt, Ed White was considered to be the most physically fit of all the astronauts in the corps.

A less obvious area of astronaut training was public relations. Many of the men felt very uncomfortable speaking in public. However, "on occasion, often without warning, [the astronauts would] be asked to speak to employee gatherings, often impromptu affairs held right on the production line". (25) Knowing that public speaking was considered part of the job, Ed White joined the Toastmasters International to improve his public communication skills. At one point, Ed served as vice president - secretary for the organization.

After months of training, the Gemini flight schedule was released. James McDivitt was selected as command pilot for the upcoming Gemini 4 flight with Ed White serving as pilot. Frank Borman and James Lovell, Jr. were backups for the flight. White and McDivitt were well matched and their personal and professional lives often had uncanny parallels. Both were married to women named Pat. Both were captains in the Air Force. Both had earned degrees in aeronautical engineering at the University of Michigan in 1959. While Ed was pursuing a masters' degree, Jim was studying for his bachelor of science degree. Both had completed test pilot training at Edwards AFB. Although White had more hours of flying time overall, McDivitt's two thousand hours in jet aircraft were almost identical to White's 1,950 hours in jets. Both had responded to NASA's call for additional astronauts in 1962 and both had been selected as part of the second group of astronauts in September of that same year. Recalling how their paths had crossed on numerous occasions, White stated that, "Jim and I have been following right along together. It seems that every time we got together we were taking examinations of some kind." (26)

The success of Grissom and Young's Gemini 3 flight paved the way for long duration space flights. The longest U.S. manned space flight to date had been Gordon Cooper's thirty four hour Mercury flight. The Soviets, however, had four long duration flights to their credit, ranging from seventy to one hundred nineteen hours. McDivitt and White were selected to fly the first long duration flight for the Gemini program.

Gemini 4's original flight plan was a fairly conservative one. The primary objective was to determine how both spacecraft and crew would perform during a four day flight. In addition, thirteen scientific experiments dotted the plan. However, early in March 1965, NASA revised the flight plan and added two extra components. One of the new objectives was to attempt to maintain a fixed distance from the second stage of the spacecraft's Titan II launch vehicle. This task, which would assist in future rendezvous missions, fell to command pilot Jim McDivitt. Ed White was slated to perform a dramatic extra vehicular activity (EVA). On March 18, 1965, Russian cosmonaut Alexi Leonov had become the first man to venture outside the relative safety of his spacecraft to float in space for ten minutes while attached to the Voskhod II by means of a ten foot tether. White was scheduled to use a newly developed suit and a special hand held unit which would allow the astronaut to propel himself while performing maneuvers outside the spacecraft. When the original flight plan was introduced, White's suit and self-propulsion unit were still on the drawing board. In fact, the gear was not certified for use in space until ten days before the Gemini 4 launch and the EVA itself was not officially confirmed until one week before the scheduled launch. Nonetheless, White spent countless hours practicing in the McDonnell pressure chamber to prepare himself to perform his space walk. Although a Russian had been the first to float in space, Ed White was determined to be the first to use jet propulsion to actually maneuver himself in space.

Although GT-4 was to be his first space flight, Ed stated, "I do feel entirely safe in a spacecraft". (27) With that sense of confidence as a backdrop, White gave his trademark thumbs up sign to the crowd that had gathered on June 3, 1965 and boarded Gemini 4 with Commander Jim McDivitt. They lifted off from Pad 19 at 10:16 AM. Ed, a devout Methodist, brought three special items to carry with him during his planned EVA: a St. Christopher's medal, a gold cross and a Star of David. "I had great faith in myself and especially in Jim, and also I think I had great faith in my God. So the reason I took those symbols was that I think this was the most important thing I had going for me, and I felt that while I couldn't take one for every religion in the country, I could take the three I was most familiar with." (28)

It became clear shortly after liftoff that McDivitt's plan to maintain a fixed distance from the jettisoned second stage of the Titan II launch vehicle would have to be abandoned because the stage was tumbling so severely that its orbit had deteriorated from that of the spacecraft. In order to pursue the object, McDivitt would have used up too much fuel. With this objective scrubbed, the crew turned its attention to Ed White's EVA, which had been scheduled to take place at the end of the second revolution.

As Gemini 4 began its second revolution, Jim and Ed started to go through the checklist for the various EVA equipment. Within the cramped confines of the spacecraft, they unpacked White's emergency oxygen chest pack, his specially designed thermal gloves and the bulky twenty five foot combination primary oxygen umbilical and tether cord. The seven and one half pound maneuvering unit was unstowed and checked. The camera equipment, which would record White's historic walk, was assembled. They wanted to be very meticulous in their EVA preparations because "it was our first step into space. [and] we wanted to be sure that the procedures were done thoroughly and correctly". (29) As the time for the EVA drew nearer, the crew realized that they were starting to rush through the checklist. McDivitt made the call to delay the EVA until the third revolution in order to give them the time they needed to properly check and don the equipment. A disappointed Ed White eventually concurred. "We decided to go right from the beginning of the checklist again. We started it all over. This time, we were able to take all the time that we wanted to." (30)

During the third revolution, the crew received a go ahead for both decompression and EVA. Accordingly, the spacecraft's atmosphere was reduced to a vacuum and White's hatch was opened. As Ed stood in his seat, preparing for egress, he checked his camera equipment three times. "I wanted to make sure I didn't leave the lens cap on. I knew I might as well not come back if I did." (31)

At 2:45 P.M., as Gemini 4 passed beyond Hawaii, Ed White emerged through the hatch. "When I departed the spacecraft, there was no pushoff whatsoever from the spacecraft. The gun actually provided the impulse for me to leave the spacecraft." (32) As he began his space walk, Ed was fully aware that all of his VOX transmissions were being heard by millions of people who were glued to their radios and television sets. "I thought, 'What do you say to 194 million people when you're looking down at them from space?' Then the solution became very obvious to me. 'They don't want me to talk to them. They want to hear what we're doing up here.' . So what you heard were two test pilots conducting their mission in the best manner possible." (33)

Ed relayed that he did not experience any disorientation or sensation that he was falling. In spite of the fact that Gemini 4 was whipping through space at speeds in excess of 17,500 mph, White felt very little sensation of speed. He reported that "the maneuvering unit is good. The only problem I have is that I haven't got enough fuel". (34) With the fuel exhausted in the hand unit, White had to rely on the twenty five foot tether to maneuver himself. He soon discovered that the gun provided much better control than the tether and that moving was much more difficult and awkward without it.

Ed, a photography buff, then turned his attention to capturing the spectacular views he was witnessing on film. "I'm going to work on getting some pictures. I can sit out here and see the whole California coast," (35) he remarked. While White snapped away with his 35 mm camera, Jim McDivitt took some photos of Ed as he came into full view of the window. As he maneuvered away, Ed accidently bumped into the spacecraft, leaving a mark on McDivitt's window. The world delighted in hearing the banter between two friends as Jim stated, "You smeared up my windshield, you dirty dog. You see how it's all smeared up there?" (36)

White's suit held up well and the special helmet visor provided the necessary protection from the sun. White noted that, "The sun in space is not blinding but it's quite nice." (37) The entire space walk was progressing extremely well. It was clear that White was enjoying himself thoroughly as he exuberantly radioed, "I'm very thankful in having the experience to be first. This is fun!" (38)

Ed's final view during his space walk was of the state of Florida. "I could see all the lower part of the state, the island chain of Cuba and Puerto Rico." (39) All too soon, the flight director ordered White back inside Gemini 4 and America's first walk in space came to a close. No one was sorrier to see it end than Ed White. "It's the saddest moment of my life," (40) he commented as he slowly maneuvered his way back. Without the benefit of the self propulsion unit, Ed needed extra time to return to the hatch. Some contended that the delay was an indication that he had suffered from a kind of narcosis of the deep or euphoria. However, Ed insisted that this was not the case. "I can say in all sincerity and honesty that I enjoyed the EVA very much, and I was sorry to see it draw to a close, and I was indeed reluctant to come in. But when the word came that the EVA phase was over, I knew it was time to come in and I did. There was no euphoria, but getting back into the cabin took just as much time as getting out I had to do the same things, only in reverse order, handing my gear in to Jim, and so on." (41) White had achieved his goal of becoming the first man to propel himself in space. In addition, his space walk had lasted twice as long as Leonov's ten minute excursion. Ed had felt many things during those twenty minutes, but "the biggest thing was a feeling of accomplishment". (42)

Gemini 4 made sixty two orbits around the earth, flying a grand total of 1,609,700 miles before splashing down in the Atlantic. Skeptics had predicted that astronauts would suffer horrendous physical side effects from a long duration flight and that the recovery crews would find either dead bodies or unconscious astronauts hovering on the brink of death once they opened the hatches. However, the recovery helicopter pilot saw a totally different sight. "They were like a couple of kids playing on the beach, splashing in the salt water." (43) Ed White was doing some kind of exercise that resembled deep knee bends. Both astronauts appeared to be in fine shape, aside from a slight case of seasickness on Ed's part and being in desperate need of a shower and shave. Commenting on their distinct aroma after the flight Ed quipped, "I thought we smelled fine. It was all those people on the carrier that smelled strange." (44) On board the recovery carrier Wasp , Ed stated, "I felt so good I didn't know whether to hop, skip, jump or walk on my hands!" (40) His spirits were so high that he danced a jig on the way to the crew quarters.

In spite of their good mood, the astronauts had experienced some practical concerns during their flight. They found the work/rest cycles to be inadequate. Thoughts about running out of water had caused the crew to be overly conservative in their water intake, putting them at risk for dehydration. In addition, "White noted that about four or five hours after eating, he began to feel as if his energy level was going downhill in a more pronounced manner than it did on earth. Each time he ate, he noted definitely that his energy level bounced up." (45) Those who knew Ed White were not at all surprised to learn that hunger pangs were his biggest discomfort during the flight. He was known to have the most voracious appetite in the entire astronaut corps. "Although space doctors failed to find an ounce of fat on his 170 pound frame, White could put away two full course dinners at one sitting and then ask for dessert with a straight face." (46) Needless to say, it did not take Ed long to gain back the eight pounds he had lost during his flight.

Upon returning to Houston, White and McDivitt received a grand welcome home. President Lyndon Johnson took the opportunity to promote both men to the rank of lieutenant colonel and presented each of them with a NASA Exceptional Service medal. Chicago played host to an enormous ticker tape parade. The University of Michigan awarded the newly created honorary doctorate degree of astronautical science to both alumni. After receiving the degree, White, who still was trying to adjust to his new military title joked, "I can hardly get used to people calling me 'Colonel'. I know in a million years I'll never get used to people calling me 'Doctor'." (47) Finally, White and McDivitt, along with their families, were asked to represent the United States and strut their stuff at the Paris Air Show. In spite of the presence of Russia's pride and joy, Yuri Gagarin, the U.S. Gemini space twins captured a great deal of media attention and put the U.S. manned space program back on the map.

Based in part on the quality and strength of his EVA performance, Ed White was selected as Senior Pilot for the first Apollo flight. He was joined by Command Pilot Virgil "Gus" Grissom and Pilot Roger Chaffee. Grissom expressed a great deal of satisfaction with White saying, "Ed's a real hard driver. I don't care what kind of job you give Ed, he's going to get it done he's going to get it finished." (48) Ed valued Grissom's experience and was pleased to discover that he and his commander tended to think along the same lines about many things.

As the crew prepared for the flight, they encountered numerous glitches and setbacks with the Apollo spacecraft. The crew stayed focused and dealt with the problems as they came up. In spite of the frustrations and delays, they never failed to keep their sense of humor intact. Well aware of Ed White's tremendous appetite, Grissom joked that during the Apollo I flight, he planned to keep his personal food supply under lock and key to discourage Ed from sneaking samples from his meals. Shortly before the final series of spacecraft testing began, the crew was asked to pose for pictures wearing their space suits. As photographers attempted to get the perfect shot of the first Apollo crew, Grissom reached over and tugged at a cord on White's space suit, causing its bright orange Mae Wests to suddenly balloon to life.

As the crew entered the Apollo I command module for the plugs out test on January 27, 1967, Ed White took the center seat. Toward the end of the test, they would be practicing emergency egress procedures and Ed would be responsible for opening the hatch by removing the bolts which sealed it shut. It was a difficult maneuver because Ed needed to reach over his head to loosen the bolts with a ratchet. The inner hatch was extremely heavy, but Ed, who was known for his great strength, had become accustomed to handling it by repeatedly practicing the opening procedure. Although the well-trained crew had practiced the egress drill numerous times, they never had managed to perform the duty within the ninety second recommended time frame. The entire plugs out test had been riddled with various problems from the time the crew entered the spacecraft shortly after 1:00 P.M., especially in the area of communications. As darkness began to fall, the crew still needed to perform the emergency egress procedure before ending the test and heading home for the weekend. A ninety second time frame was the goal for completing the hatch removal. Ed White had no idea that he and the crew soon would be in an emergency situation and that their lives would depend upon the crew opening the hatch in less than twenty seconds. Notes:

1. Life . June 18, 1965, p. 38.

2. Time . February 3, 1967, p. 16.

3. Newsweek . June 14, 1965, p. 32.

7. Erik Bergaust, editor, Illustrated Space Encyclopedia ( New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1965), p. 146.

9. Newsweek , February 6, 1967, p. 29.

10. Henry Dethloff, Suddenly Tomorrow Came. A History of the Johnson Space Center (Houston: Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1993), p. 44.

11. The New York Times , January 28, 1967, p. 1L.

13. Life , February 10, 1967, p. 22.

14. Betty Grissom and Henry Still, Starfall (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1974), p. 144.

16. Virgil Grissom, Gemini: A Personal Account of Man's Venture Into Space (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1968), p. 74.

17. Life , June 18, 1965, p. 39.

18. Ralph O. Shankle, The Twins of Space: The Story of the Gemini Project (New York: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1964), p. 160.

24. Life , February 10, 1967, p. 22.

26. United Press International, editors, Gemini: America's Historic Walk In Space (United Press International, Inc., 1965), p. 13.

Bruce McCandless, 1st to fly untethered in space, dies

1 of 6 In a photo provided by Nasa, Bruce McCandless uses a nitrogen-propelled thruster unit to perform the first-ever untethered spacewalk, on Feb. 7, 1984. McCandless, a highly-decorated astronaut for more than two decades, died on Dec. 21, 2017. He was 80. (NASA via The New York Times) -- FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY -- NASA/NYT Show More Show Less

2 of 6 In a photo provided by Nasa, Bruce McCandless aboard the Discovery space shuttle on April 29, 1990. McCandless, who on a 1984 mission became the first astronaut to fly untethered from his spacecraft, died on Dec. 21, 2017. He was 80. (NASA via The New York Times) -- FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY -- NASA/NYT Show More Show Less

4 of 6 Former astronaut and retired U.S. Navy captain Bruce McCandless II died Thursday in California at age 80. He was the first to fly untethered in space, where he logged more than 312 hours. HOGP Show More Show Less

5 of 6 Mission Specialist Bruce McCandless II uses a Manned Maneuvering Unit to "free-fly" 320 feet away from the orbiter. Photo credit: NASA Show More Show Less

HOUSTON &mdash NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless, the first person to fly freely and untethered in space, has died. He was 80.

He was famously photographed in 1984 flying with a hefty spacewalker&rsquos jetpack, alone in the cosmic blackness above a blue Earth. He traveled more than 300 feet away from the space shuttle Challenger during the spacewalk.

&ldquoThe iconic photo of Bruce soaring effortlessly in space has inspired generations of Americans to believe that there is no limit to the human potential,&rdquo Sen. John McCain said in a statement. The Arizona Republican and McCandless were classmates at the U.S. Naval Academy.

NASA&rsquos Johnson Space Center said Friday that McCandless died Thursday in California. No cause of death was given.

ALSO: Historic SpaceX launch lights up Southern California skies (story continues below)

McCandless said he wasn&rsquot nervous about the historic spacewalk.

&ldquoI was grossly over-trained. I was just anxious to get out there and fly. I felt very comfortable . It got so cold my teeth were chattering and I was shivering, but that was a very minor thing,&rdquo he told the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colorado, in 2006.

During that flight, McCandless and fellow astronaut Robert L. Stewart pioneered the use of NASA&rsquos backpack device that allowed astronauts walking in space to propel themselves from the shuttle. Stewart became the second person to fly untethered two hours after McCandless.

&ldquoI&rsquod been told of the quiet vacuum you experience in space, but with three radio links saying, &ldquoHow&rsquos your oxygen holding out?&rdquo &lsquo&rsquoStay away from the engines!&rdquo &lsquo&rsquoWhen&rsquos my turn?&rdquo it wasn&rsquot that peaceful,&rsquo McCandless wrote in the Guardian in 2015.

But he also wrote: &ldquoIt was a wonderful feeling, a mix of personal elation and professional pride: it had taken many years to get to that point.&rdquo

Council Era - War and Rebellion (1 CE - 900 CE)

The Rachni Wars continue. The salarians make first contact with and uplift the primitive krogan, manipulating them into acting as soldiers for the Citadel Council. The krogan prove able to survive the harsh environments of the rachni worlds and pursue the rachni into their nests, systematically eradicating queens and eggs.

The rachni are declared extinct. In gratitude for their aid during the Rachni Wars, the Council rewards the krogan a new homeworld. Free of the harsh environment of Tuchanka, the krogan population explodes.

The krogan begin to expand exponentially, colonizing many new worlds. Growing concerns about their expansion lead to the founding of the Special Tactics and Reconnaissance branch of the Citadel.

Beelo Gurji, a salarian operative, is appointed the first Spectre by the Citadel Council.

700 CE: The Krogan Rebellions

Nakmor Drack is born. Krogan warlords leverage veterans of the Rachni Wars to annex territory from other races in Citadel space. Eventually the Council demands withdrawal from the asari colony of Lusia, but the krogan refuse. A preemptive strike is made on krogan infrastructures by the Spectres. The Krogan Rebellions begin. The Citadel Council makes first contact with the turians around this time and persuades them to aid in the war. After the krogan respond to the initial turian offensive by devastating turian colonies with weapons of mass destruction, the turians vow to stop the krogan from ever becoming a threat again. Sometime after the turians join the galactic community, the volus are accepted as a client race of the Turian Hierarchy.

Realizing that the krogan will never give in as long as they can replenish their fighters, the turians unleash a salarian-engineered bio-weapon known as the genophage on the krogan. The krogan population starts its decline.

The Krogan Rebellions end, though scattered krogan insurgent actions continue for decades. The turians fill the military and peacekeeping niche left by the decimated krogan. The Citadel Conventions are drawn up in the wake of the conflict.

New wearable authentication more than a ‘token’ gesture

Posted On April 29, 2020 15:53:29

The Army Futures Command, or AFC, is developing wearable identity authentication and authorization technologies that will enable soldiers to securely access network-based capabilities while operating on the move in contested, threat-based environments.

Since 2001, the Common Access Card, or CAC, has served as the de facto, government-wide standard for network and system security access control. However, CAC cards are not operationally suited for use in every environment.

Moreover, the Army lacks a standard way for soldiers at every echelon to prove their identity when operating systems, devices, and applications on Army networks.

With this in mind, AFC’s major subordinate command, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, or CCDC, is researching and developing authentication technologies that will provide soldiers with secure and simple ways to identify, authenticate and be authorized access to Army networks, operating systems, servers, laptops, applications, web services, radios, weapon systems, and handheld devices.

CCDC’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, or C5ISR, Center is designing wearable identity tokens for soldiers to use to log on to mission command systems, networks and tactical platforms. The tokens are wireless, lightweight, flexible, and rugged, and they can be inserted in a soldier’s pocket, attached to a sleeve or integrated into a wrist band like a Fitbit.

Conceptually, soldiers wearing these tokens could simply approach a system to login, be recognized by that system, which would then prompt the soldier to enter a PIN or use a biometric as a second factor, and be automatically logged out when they walk out of the system’s range.

The CCDC C5ISR Center is developing wearable authentication tokens that will enable soldiers at every echelon to prove their identity when operating systems, devices and applications on the Army tactical network.

(Photo by Spc. Dustin D. Biven, 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

“The Army is driving towards a simpler and intuitive tactical network, so we’re aligning our Science and Technology resources to explore the challenges associated with this mission space, inform senior decision makers of the lessons learned and deliver capabilities that support Army Modernization and address the soldier’s needs — now and in the future,” said Brian Dempsey, Tactical Network Protection chief for the C5ISR Center’s Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate, or STCD.

The wearable identity tokens combine the security of a public key-based credential — similar to the credential on the CAC — with cutting-edge advances in the commercial wireless payment industry and flexible hybrid electronics, explained Ogedi Okwudishu, project lead for the Tactical Identity and Access Management, or TIDAM, program.

“As part of the Army Futures Command, we’re looking to move at the speed of the information age. We want to be able to research, test, proof the concepts and integrate emerging IT capabilities from industry as they become available. There’s no point re-inventing the wheel,” Okwudishu said.

Under the current paradigm, tactical platforms would need to be retrofitted with specialized equipment in order to read new identity authentication technologies. Such deployments and retrofitting can be very costly. Wearable tokens, however, leverage already existing communication and protocol capabilities, Okwudishu pointed out.

“Soldiers should not have to take out a smartcard, insert it into a card reader and then remember to remove the card from the reader when they are done,” said Okwudishu. “Contactless identity tokens are not only easy to use, they provide a significant cost savings for the Army. You can continue to add authentication capabilities without needing to redesign, or deploy new, tactical hardware to every laptop, server, handheld device or weapon system in the field.”

The tokens are lightweight, flexible and rugged, and they can be inserted in a soldier’s pocket, attached to a sleeve or integrated into a wrist band like a Fitbit.

Since beginning the TIDAM program in 2017, the C5ISR Center has worked closely with soldiers and Program Executive Offices, or PEOs, soldier and Command, Control Communications-Tactical, or C3T, to validate, demonstrate and mature the technology.

The center’s STCD is working with Project Manager Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, to finalize a transition agreement with PEO soldier for wearable authenticator infrastructure technologies. In the meantime, the directorate is developing a wearable authenticator software provisioner that will enable the secure placement of credentials on the wearable tokens and the ability to do this “locally” at the brigade level and below.

STCD is also working from a roadmap it jointly developed with PEO soldier to integrate the capability with various systems from PEO soldier and PEO C3T. Currently, the goal for fielding the tokens is in FY 22.

“I think this is a really great idea,” said Sgt. 1st Class David Worthington, senior enlisted advisor for the C5ISR Center. “Nobody has done anything like this yet. If done properly, it will make the authentication process a lot easier and a lot faster. More important, it provides more reciprocity at the tactical level for log-ins, so you can track what people are doing on the network.”

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

The F-35 can make China’s carrier killer missiles ‘irrelevant’

Posted On April 10, 2018 03:08:36

As China builds out its network of militarized islands in the South China Sea and expands a sphere of influence designed to keep the U.S. out, the U.S. Marine Corps is putting the finishing touches on a weapon to burst its bubble: the F-35B.

China’s People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force has turned out a massive number of so-called carrier-killer missiles, ballistic missiles that can target ships up to about 800 miles out at sea, even testing them against models of U.S. aircraft carriers.

With the U.S. Navy’s longest-range platform — aircraft carriers — maxing out at a range of about 550 miles, this means China could theoretically use the missiles to shut the U.S. out of a battle for the South China Sea.

But theories and lines drawn on paper won’t beat the U.S. military in a battle.

A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, conducts a vertical landing at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Nov. 15 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Carlos Jimenez)

In pursuing the strategy of anti-access/area denial, known as A2AD, China assumes that the U.S. must launch aircraft from bases or aircraft carriers. But the F-35B, the U.S. Marine Corps’ variant of the most expensive weapons system of all time, doesn’t work that way.

“You can fly the F-35B literally anywhere,” David Berke, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, told Business Insider. “If your traditional places of operation are unavailable” — perhaps because Chinese missile fire cratered them, a likely tactic in a war — “the F-35B can be there.”

By taking off in just a few hundred feet or so and landing from a vertical drop, the F-35B frees up the Marine Corps from worrying about large, obvious bases.

Jetpack Reality

On April 20th, 1961, a little more than a week after Yuri Gagarin became the first human to breach outer space, Harold Graham propelled himself to the incredible height of four-feet above the Earth. The secret flight lasted 14 seconds, covering a distance of less than 35 feet at a speed of about 6mph. It marks the very first successful outdoor test of a jetpack in free flight (no tethers). Fittingly, the flight took place in Niagara Falls, New York, otherwise, known as "the capital city of Earth" to Buck Rogers fans. The Rocket Belt used was developed by Wendell F. Moore for Bell Aerospace under contract with the US Army's Small Rocket Lift Device (SRLD) program.

Moore's dream of rocket flight started in 1953 when the aeronautical engineer began doodling jetpack designs at his kitchen table. Naturally, he tested the Rocket Belt himself even breaking his knee in an accident after his fuel tank snagging a support line in an early tethered flight. The Bell design pushed five US gallons (19 liters) of 90 percent liquid hydrogen peroxide through tiny nitrate-coated silver screen catalysts — enough fuel for about 20 seconds of flight. Hydrogen peroxide fuel was chosen for its power-to-weight ratio, capable of creating about 300 pounds of thrust as super-heated jets of steam escape a pair of nozzles. In other words, it produced a lot of noisy hot air.

On June 8, 1961, Harold Graham demonstrated Bell's "portable Army rocket" for the first time to an incredulous public. The flight saw Graham fly over a truck at a height of 15 feet landing 150 feet away after 14 seconds of air time. Nevertheless, the "ear-splitting" flight was described by the New York Times as "short but spectacular." By December 1961 Bell's 100-pound rocket belt would carry a man as high as 35 feet or a distance of 368 feet when barely skimming the ground.

By 1962, Moore's design was considered "perfected" with a top speed of 60mph, a top altitude of 60 feet, and 21 seconds of operation. Unfortunately, it also created 130 decibels of deafening noise — that's about as loud as a jet taking off from 200 feet away. Moore died in 1969 but variations of his original Rocket Belt design would be demonstrated around the world many years after his death. To this day, when you hear the word "jetpack," you're probably imagining Moore's Bell Rocket Belt design just before your sense of jilted entitlement sets in.

By November of 1962, four years after NASA was established, we get our first look at the "human spaceship." This 10-nozzel pack developed for the Air Force by Chance-Vought, was designed to use nitrogen-pressurized hydrogen peroxide jets to propel future spacemen away from their craft for up to four hours at a time at a distance of a few miles. The SMU (Self-Maneuvering Unit) pictured ultimately lead to the more aptly named (but bulkier) AMU (Astronaut Maneuvering Unit), MMU (Manned Maneuvering Unit), and SAFER (Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue) packs used on actual NASA flights. This Popular Science article also marks one of the first uses of "jet pack" in popular media.

Unlike the fabled Greek myth, the 1964 project ICARUS died without ever getting off the ground.

In 1965, Bell created a "rocket chair" ejection seat concept using a regular chair from the Bell cafeteria. Moore and Bell also experimented with a two-man Pogo as a method of moving Apollo astronauts around on the moon. No, seriously.

In 1965 the jetpack became a mainstream phenomena when Sean Connery strapped on a Hollywood mock-up of the Bell Rocketbelt in Thunderball. He wears another, unnamed pack, for an underwater battle. In short, 007 does it everywhere with the smug confidence of a man who knows that fewer people would fly a jetpack than be shot into space.

Bill Suitor and Gordon Yeager (not Sean Connery) were the actual pilots of the Bell Rocketbelt in Thunderball. Bill, a jetpack legend, approached his neighbor for a job in 1963 — he was just 19 years old. Bill's neighbor, Wendell F. Moore, just happened to be the inventor of the Bell Rocketbelt. Suitor would spend the next 30 years demonstrating the Bell jetpack more than a 1,000 times in over 40 countries across the globe.

It was Suitor who flew the jetpack during the opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles seen by an estimated 2.5 billion people. 2.5 billion very disappointed people.

From 1965 to 1968, Lost in Space television viewers could marvel at professor John Robinson's use of a Bell Rocket Belt and tin-foil clothing — Oh Daddy, is right! The series was set in the impossibly far-off future of 1997. Sounds magical.

The June 1966 edition of Popular Science publishes word of a patent for a new, as of yet unseen, "jet belt" from Bell using a turbojet engine and conventional jet fuel. Note that the co-inventor is none other than Wendell F. Moore.

1968: Buck Rogers flying belt "a large hop closer today"

On June 27th, 1968, a New York Times article proclaimed that the Buck Rogers flying belt was "a large hop closer today" when Bell Aerosystems revealed its successor to Wendell Moore's Jet Belt design. The new jetpack was powered by the world's smallest (for its day) turbojet engine (about one foot wide and two feet long) built by Williams Research to burn standard kerosene-type jet fuel (stored in clear plastic tanks) with a range measured in minutes and miles, not seconds and feet. Or so they claimed.

Alas, it was also heavier than the original and just as loud. The article mistakenly says that the Bell Rocket Belt was "flown more than 3,000 times without injury or accident since the first test on April 27, 1960." Although the Rocket Belts safety record was indeed impressive (especially since it flew beneath parachute level), by his own admission, Wendell Moore broke his knee during an early test flight on February 17th, 1961. Unfortunately, it would be just one of many jetpack-related lies to come.

On April 7 1969, pilot Robert Couter of Bell (now Textron Bell Aerosystems) flew the first successful free flight of the "Jet Belt" or "Jet Flying Belt." He flew a distance of more than 300 feet at about 20 feet off the ground. The Popular Science article proposes that "maybe someday your 'second car' will be a flying belt garaged in the hall closet." Yeah, someday, but not 42 years later.

Unfortunately, the 70s and 80s provide a near dearth in terrestrial jetpack innovation. There was simply too much Pabst to drink after the scientists finished feathering each other's hair.

In 1984 NASA used its version of the jetpack, the 24-nozzel nitrogen-powered Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), on three space shuttle missions. After an uneventful first test, the MMU nearly caused a satellite to careen out of control during an improvised recovery mission. The MMU performed better in its third mission, helping astronauts capture two satellites and return them to the orbiter payload.

After the Challenger disaster, the MMU system was determined too risky and replaced by SAFER (Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue). SAFER, developed by the Robotics Division of NASA at the Johnson Space Center, was first flown in 1994. It functioned as an emergency, self-rescue apparatus in case an astronaut became separated from his tethers during a space walk. In 2000, two astronauts used the nitrogen-powered SAFER to perform a "gentle 50-foot flight" while tethered to the shuttle.

It's 1992 — just a year after the theatrical release of The Rocketeer — are you really surprised that the man from Neverland would own a jetpack? See if you can spot the switch.

Stanley then brought Barker to court receiving a $10 million reward from the judge. Barker refused to pay and found himself stuffed in a box, locked from the outside. After eight days Barker managed to escape. Police arrested Stanley and in 2002 he was sentenced to life in prison, since reduced to eight years.

The motivation? Fame and an expected payday of $25,000 per flight a jetpack operator could expect for advertising, movie stunts, and events. Oh, and stupidity.

The RB-2000 was never found.

Think Jetpack Jacko was an oddity, try this one on. In 1992, Brad Barker set off to built the Rocketbelt-2000 with two partners: Joe Wright and Larry Stanley. By 1994 they had a working prototype of the original Wendell Moore design, modified with lighter components and an increased fuel stock. On June 12th, 1995, our old friend Bill Suitor flew the RB-2000 for 30 seconds (9 seconds longer than the previous record of the Moore design).

A disagreement between Stanley, who fronted most of the money, and Barker resulted in Barker bludgeoning Stanley with a hammer. Barker was convicted of assault. Stanley subsequently wins a court order giving him ownership of the RB-2000. When Stanley goes to Wright's auto shop to collect the RB-2000, it was gone, and so was Barker. So, Stanley goes to Joe Wright for answers who turns up dead, so badly beaten that Wright's body had to be identified from his dental records.

Today's hydrogen peroxide rocket belts still mimics Moore's original design only with an increased operating capacity of 34 seconds thanks to advances in materials and larger 10 gallon fuel tanks. Unfortunately, the noise, costs, piloting difficulties, and short flight duration continues to limit the packs to roles in advertising, movies and entertainment. Still, a handful of enthusiasts like TAM, Go Fast!, Thunderbolt Aerosystems (Bill Suitor's new employer), Ky Michaelson, and Dan Schlund have kept the dream alive.

2006: Isabel Lozano becomes first 'rocket woman'

One man in particular, TAM's Juan Manuel Lozano Gallegos, is particularly obsessed with jetpacks — any form of rocket propelled travel, really, including rocket cars, bikes, and even helicopters. The self-taught engineer has single-handedly built eight rocket belts (Bell Aerosystems only built four) at a cost of about $35,000 each — his first prototype cost about $500,000 to develop. And since you can't purchase 90 percent concentrated hydrogen peroxide anymore (pharmacies only sell a 3 percent concentration), Juan built a machine to create his own 90 percent solution. Juan is so obsessed with jetpacks that he convinced his daughter — Isabel Lozano — to become the world's first "rocket woman" on August 11th, 2006.

After decades of nothingness in terms of true jetpack innovation, in steps Yves Rossy, aka, "Jet Man," who in November 2006 strapped four, Kerosine-fueld Jet-Cat P200 jet engines to a pair of semi-rigid carbon-fiber wings and rocketed himself Superman-like for a proper six minutes and nine seconds.

In 2008, he hit a descent speed of 189mph over the Alps and in 2010 he dropped from a hot air balloon at 7,900 feet and proceeded to fly for a total of 18 minutes before landing by parachute, wings folded. Oh, and he flew his powered wing over the Grand Canyon. This guy is a hero a mad, mad hero.

That time Sen. Mitch McConnell was fooled by ‘Duffel Blog’

Posted On April 10, 2018 19:46:40

You might think that, somewhere along the way, someone in the staff of a senior senator from Kentucky would have figured out what Duffel Blog really was. Instead, in 2012, a concerned constituent actually had the Senator’s office send a formal letter to the Pentagon concerning Duffel Blog’s report of the VA extending benefits to Guantanamo Bay detainees.

What Duffel Blog is, on its face, is a satirical news website that covers the military. At the very least, we all laugh. We laugh at the brave Airman who sent his steak back at the DFAC and the Army wife who re-enlisted her husband indefinitely using a general power of attorney. We laugh because the stories’ absurdities are grounded in the reality of military culture.

Duffel Blog and its writers are more than brilliant. What it does at its best is play the role of court jester – delivering hard truths hidden inside jokes. In the case of Senator McConnell’s office sending a letter of concern to the Pentagon over a Duffel Blog piece, the site was hammering the VA, equating using its services to punishing accused terrorists in one of the most notorious prisons in the world.

We laugh, but they’re talking about the VA we all use – and we laugh because there’s truth to the premise.

Paul Szoldra is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Duffel Blog, former Military and Defense Editor at Business Insider, and was instrumental in the creation of We Are The Mighty. He’s now a columnist at Task & Purpose.

Szoldra speaks the the Got Your 6 Storytellers event in Los Angeles, Calif. (Television Academy)

Speaking truth to power is not difficult for Szoldra, even when the power he speaks to is one that is so revered by the American people that it’s nearly untouchable by most other media. We live in an age where criticizing politicians is the order of the day, but criticizing the military can be a career-ending endeavor. You don’t have to be a veteran to criticize military leadership, but it helps.

“If you go back on the timeline far enough, you’ll find a lot of bullsh*t,” Szoldra says, referring specifically to comments made by generals about the now 17-year-old war in Afghanistan. “And I have no problem calling it out, highlighting it where need be.”

Szoldra doesn’t like that the top leadership of the U.S. military exists in what he calls a “bubble” and can get away with a lot because of American support for its fighting men and women — those fighting the war on the ground. Szoldra, who left the Marine Corps as a sergeant in 2010, was one of those lower-enlisted who fought the war. When he writes, he writes from that perspective.

Szoldra as a Marine in Afghanistan (Paul Szoldra)

“If we’re talking about sending troops into Syria… I wonder what does that feel like to the grunt on the ground,” Szoldra says. “I don’t really care too much about the general and how he’s going to deal with the strategy, I wonder about the 20-something lance corporal that I used to be trying to find IEDs with their feet.”

His work is thoughtful and, at times, intense, but always well-founded. Szoldra also does a semi-regular podcast with Terminal Lance creator, Max Uriarte, where they have honest discussion about similar topics. Those discussions often take more of a cultural turn and it feels more like you’re listening to Marine grunts wax on about the way things are changing – because that’s exactly what it is, with just as much honesty as you’d come to expect from Paul Szoldra and his ongoing body of work.

Szoldra and Max Uriarte record their podcast. (After Action with Max and Paul)

If you liked Szoldra on the show, read his work on Task & Purpose, give After Action with Max and Paul a listen, and get the latest from Duffel Blog. If you aren’t interested in the latest and just want the greatest, pick up Mission Accomplished: The Very Best of Duffel Blog, Volume One at Amazon.

And for a (potentially) limited time, you can get the Duffel Blog party game “WTF, Over? The Duffel Box” by donating to the game’s Kickstarter campaign.