My name is Bruce McCandless III. My father, Bruce McCandless II, sadly passed away in December of 2017.

I grew up in the shadow of Houston’s Johnson Space Center during the Apollo and Skylab eras. I graduated from the Plan II Honors Program of the University of Texas in 1983 and went on to earn degrees from the University of Reading in England and the University of Texas School of Law. After teaching at Saint David’s School in New York City, I returned to Austin to practice law and retired as general counsel of Superior HealthPlan in 2019. I am the author of Sour Lake (2011), Beatrice and the Basilisk (2014), and, with my daughter Carson, Carson Clare’s Trail Guide to Avoiding Death (And Other Unpleasant Consequences) (2017). I serve on the board of directors of the Worthy Garden Club, an Oregon-based environmental organization, and the Austin Public Library Foundation. My wife and I, Pati Fuller McCandless, live in Austin.

To learn more about my work, feel free to take a look here:

To Learn more about my father's work and a Skylab astronaut reunion, feel free to learn more here:

Proof here:

Leo Mercado will assist me with questions.

Edit: Bruce has work commitments to attend to so will be logging off at 11:30 a.m. CST on Friday, July 30, 2021. Thanks everyone!

Comments: 182 • Responses: 59  • Date: 

KitchenBomber171 karma

Are you any relation to Chris McCandless of Into the Wild fame/infamy? Just curious because his father Walter also worked for NASA and the last name is fairly unique.

BruceM_VGMA151 karma

Great question! I think all us McCandlesses are related if you go back far enough, but no, I can't say that we have any direct or close connection to Chris or Walter. I have to say, though, that I've wondered about this myself!

We are related to Allen McCanless, the bluegrass fiddler from North Carolina.

Tintin_Quarentino62 karma

Damn... McCandless + the dad in NASA, really got me thinking you're Chris's brother. Y'all McCandless lit up NASA though, respect!

BruceM_VGMA33 karma

Thanks Tintin_Quarentino. B2 had a long career with NASA and a pretty successful one I think. The jetpack is probably the most visible reminder of that, but the Hubble Space Telescope is probably the most important thing he worked on.

gerthworm8 karma

Piling on with the first question that came to my mind: Stanley McCandleless, considered the father of modern theatrical lighting design.

Thanks for sharing Bruce!

WikiSummarizerBot4 karma


Stanley Russell McCandless (May 9, 1897 – August 4, 1967) is considered to be the father of modern lighting design. He paved the way for future lighting designers by making contributions to almost all aspects of theatrical lighting, from the engineering of lighting instruments to consultant work, and designing realized theatrical productions. Perhaps most importantly he wrote one of the seminal works on the theory of stage lighting, which continues to influence the technique of most theatrical lighting designers to this day.

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BruceM_VGMA1 karma

Thank you for this info! B

BruceM_VGMA1 karma

You're welcome, Gerthworm! It's been fun. And thank you for the information about Stanley.

VillageOk485862 karma

During the days immediately following Apollo 11, public apathy towards the space program was growing, at times turning to outright animosity. How did that affect those in the NASA space community in Houston?

BruceM_VGMA93 karma

I think a lot of folks at NASA were really disappointed to see the early excitement about the Apollo program fade. I get why it happened--Vietnam, racial tensions, etc.--and I think it forced NASA to rethink a lot of things and reinvent itself as a science agency, trying to shed its quasi-military image.

Finntrekkie37 karma

Skylab famously crashed in 1979 - do you remember if you rfather said anything about it at the time/was involved in the final attempt to control the crash?

Johannes :D

BruceM_VGMA45 karma

He was involved in the repair efforts in 1973 but not, as far as I can recall, in the attempts to control the descent in '79. I think he was as vaguely embarrassed about it as everyone else was. I note that the Chinese have similar problems with the return to earth of their Long March 5 rockets--namely, no one knows exactly where they're going to come down. So far we've been lucky--no casualties.

DWiB40330 karma

I read up on your Father after seeing him as CAPCOM during the Apollo 11 mission. Noticed he was selected into the program in the 60s and was finally sent into space after waiting around 20 years.

How did he feel watching from the sidelines as almost every one he knew went before him? Was he content with the work he did waiting all those years? Was he given opportunity but reluctant to go? Did he ever consider leaving the project? Did he always have faith he would be sent up one day?

BruceM_VGMA38 karma

Man that's a lot to unpack DWiB403! You're right--he was selected to be an astronaut in 1966, the youngest man in his class, but then had to wait 18 years to get a mission. It was tough on him and on the family. He loved the work he was doing on Skylab and the Manned Maneuvering Unit and, later, on the Inertial Upper Stage and the Hubble Space Telescope, but his real ambition all that time was to get a flight. My book Wonders All Around goes into a fair amount of detail about why that happened the way it did. And no, he was never reluctant to go. In fact, he couldn't wait. (Correction: He COULD wait, and he did wait, but he didn't WANT to wait.)

DWiB4038 karma

Thanks for the reply. Fun follow up question: did your Father take the Corvette deal? If yes, what happened to the car?

BruceM_VGMA35 karma

Yes DWiB403 we did have a Corvette for a while--a gold one, in fact--but Dad didn't drive it much. He preferred his Jeep Wagoneer with 4-wheel drive. As a result, my mom got to drive the Vette--and she did, straight into a ditch.

DWiB4038 karma

Good story. Hope it made it into the book.

BruceM_VGMA45 karma

Nope. Only into the ditch.

Dwight-SB28 karma

Bruce I read your new book and didnt realize your Dad was a crucial, yet unsung part of Skylab. How did he feel about his contribution to that unsung era of NASA history? Is there any place we can see his work on Skylab?

BruceM_VGMA35 karma

I'm a big Skylab fan, so I'm glad you asked. Dad was passionate about the importance of doing science in space, and got involved in all sorts of Skylab planning and engineering details. His most visible role was in helping to figure out how to fix the lab when it was damaged during launch, losing one of its solar arrays and an important micrometeorite shield. Dwight Steven-Boniecki's documentary "Searching for Skylab" tells the story of how NASA managed, somewhat miraculously, to save America's first space station and get it back in working order. Highly recommended!

RyanSmith21 karma

Oh wow! I remember reading about your father. Then I went down the rabbit hole and saw that your Grandfather was the hero on the USS San Francisco who took the com after all the officers on the deck got knocked out. Then realized your great-grandfather was also a rear admiral with his own history of amazing feats. Then followed up with your great-great(?)-grandfather being at the shoot-out with Wild Bill Hickok.

I always wondered what it would be like to live up to a legacy like that. Any pressure?

BruceM_VGMA30 karma

Maybe a little, but I don't know that it's any different from the pressure other people feel. Who am I? What am I trying to accomplish? How can I be better at what I'm doing? Why do I keep screwing things up on a daily basis? We all deal with those questions, and the pressure we put on ourselves is usually worse than what's imposed on us by others. Ultimately my dad succeeded because he worked really hard for a really long time at something he loved doing. I try to do the same with my writing and hope good things come as a result. Great question. Tough to answer.

Dwight-SB17 karma

Bruce, another question, your Dads photo taken by Hoot Gibson is probably the most famous NASA photo after Buzz on tbe lunar surface. Growing up, was this photo ever spoken about or displayed in your home?

BruceM_VGMA21 karma

Well I was already grown up by the time he flew the jetpack and the famous photo was taken, so no--not while I was a kid. But yes, he displayed the photo proudly after the flight. And why not? He waited a long time for that moment!

bommi_bommi_boomboom17 karma


I just want to say, how much I enjoy your father's CAPCOM voice in documentaries and other footage. I'm sure the crew found his messages and updates reassuring, and felt refreshed when they received the good morning call, and daily news.

Question: Did you know the Apollo and Skylab astronauts well? Were they regular visitors at your home? I'd love to hear any anecdotes/stories.

I cant imagine how it must be like, having moonwalkers, space station and STS pioneers coming to your house and being just like regular folk. But then, if I was a kid or teenager, the gravitas of the whole thing wouldn't have hit me till I was much older.

Question 2: Do you have any mementos from his spaceflights? Or an original print of that famous photograph?

Thank you for your time.

BruceM_VGMA17 karma

Thanks bommi! This is a fun question for sure. First, I like hearing B2's voice as well, although there's a weird sort of nasal, carnival barker-type quality to some of the Apollo transmissions. But what the heck--it was an exciting time. My parents were among the least social of the astronaut couples. My dad preferred building radios and, later, computers to drinking beer with his buddies, and my mom was busy with us. I knew some of the families, the Haises and the Musgraves, for example, but not many others. Dad knew and worked with them of course, and found them to be as bright and capable and funny as you might imagine them to be. It was like working with a cadre of Captain Kirks. And you're right. The "specialness" of the time and place didn't hit me till I was much older. Patrick Mullane has written a very funny book about growing up the son of shuttle astronaut Mike Mullane during the eighties, and he had a much different experience than I did. He got to know a lot of the astronauts when he was a kid. Check it out if you get a chance. It's called Father, Son, and Holy Shuttle. (Great title!) As for the photo, I don't know that we had an original print, but we certainly had a bunch of them! It's a great shot, and all credit goes to Dad's crewmate Hoot Gibson for taking the photo.

bommi_bommi_boomboom4 karma

Thank you for your reply, & for the book suggestion. Seems like both father and son are great raconteurs! I'll definitely check it out.

p.s. do your friends and loved ones call you B3?? :D

BruceM_VGMA11 karma

bommi I get a lot of B3s and--I blame my mom for this--"Brucies" as well. That one was responsible for a few black eyes when I was growing up, but I survived.

BruceM_VGMA3 karma

I hope you enjoy the book(s)!

ManifestDestinysChld16 karma

I have to imagine that given the line of work, area of specialty and of course the name, your family bears a serious grudge against the Electric Light Orchestra and their fans. True or False? :D

I was sorry to hear about your father's passing. I was definitely a space-nerd kid in the 80s, and the photos of your dad floating in the MMU are written deep, deep in my brain, haha.

Did your father ever mention anything about the Overview Effect? That's always fascinated me whenever I've heard about it, particularly about how common it is for people who've been to space.

BruceM_VGMA27 karma

Yes, he definitely mentioned and said he experienced the Overview Effect. Like a lot of the astronauts, he came back from space feeling like it doesn't make much sense for us passengers of Spaceship Earth to be fighting each other, given the fragility and miraculousness of life on our little blue dot.
I love the ELO reference, though it took me awhile to get it. Sorry if I brought you down!

ManifestDestinysChld8 karma

Quite the opposite. Thanks, and congratulations on the new book!!

BruceM_VGMA9 karma

Quite the opposite. Thanks, and congratulations on the new book!!

Thank you ManifestDestinysChild. So far, so good--we're getting some nice comments on it.

uqasa15 karma

Would you tell if your father shared the psychological effect of feeling that tribalism no longer mattered as he saw the earth from above?

BruceM_VGMA28 karma

Yes he did uqasa. He went from being your standard fighter-pilot cold warrior in the early sixties to much more of a globalist, especially after his first space flight. That's not to say he wasn't still a Navy man and a patriot, but he was interested in and admired aspects of many other cultures as well. He loved to travel, and visited Russia, Sweden, Germany, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, and a number of other places after he retired. He loved to talk about the people he'd met and the places he'd seen. To him, our home planet was "Spaceship Earth," and all of us its passengers.

Dwight-SB15 karma

Bruce, can you speak little about what your Dad did for the local wildlife in Houston?

BruceM_VGMA22 karma

I sure can, thank you Dwight-SB. Bruce 2 was an avid conservationist, and very active in the wildlife rescue and rehabilitation community in Houston. When I was a kid, we almost always had at least one animal in the house (or garage) that he and my mom were taking care of--a loon, three baby owls, a red-shouldered hawk, a raccoon, etc. He eventually became president of the Houston Audubon Society, our local chapter of the prominent national conservation group, and helped to acquire and preserve its present headquarters at the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary. He was, I think, NASA's first environmentalist--or at least the first astronaut environmentalist.

Madoc_eu11 karma

When you asked the father what it's like to be in space (which I have no doubt certain you did), which part of his response did you find the most amazing?

BruceM_VGMA18 karma

What I always find amazing, and pretty endearing, is that so many astronauts say their favorite thing to do while in space was to look at Earth, as if it were a parent waving so long from a train station. Dad was no exception. Maybe we should all spend a week or two up there! It might help us appreciate what we have down here. Thanks Madoc_eu!

Madoc_eu6 karma

Thank you. I also think we should do that. But in lieu of that possibility, I find Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot" really inspiring.

BruceM_VGMA9 karma

I'm with you. Carl Sagan was the best.

Grandville936 karma

Were you able to see any of the high-definition footage of your father as CAPCOM during Apollo 11 prior to it be released in the 2019 movie "Apollo 11" (by Todd Douglas Miller)? - that Imax-quality 70mm footage was astounding! Did your father (as an astronaut) get to take any home-movie footage of him working/ or with other astronauts of their "home" life during the same time period?

BruceM_VGMA7 karma

No I wasn't and it was such a revelation to see that beautiful footage. My wife and I rented a movie theatre here in Austin during the summer of 2019 and invited our friends and their kids to come and watch the film. It's indescribably moving. I love your idea of combining the footage with similarly "cleansed" home movies. It would be such a cool way of looking at a fascinating time in American life.

Grandville933 karma

Agreed, that high-definition footage was astounding- I was able to see it here locally at the Hunstville, AL Space and Rocket Center IMAX theatre- it was amazing to to see the imagery "life-size" of the Saturn V. If ever visiting Huntsville, you're welcome to contact me/ PM for a tour and meet-up.

Grandville936 karma

Also, do any of the space mementos that your father had provide you special memories/ or retain special significance to you? It's possible that they may be something personal that relates to a private moment- if so, no need to explain... (things like a Snoopy pin, or special award, etc...)

BruceM_VGMA7 karma

Man, another great question, but a tough one. I suppose if I had to pick one thing, it would be a framed montage of photos he received from his friends at Martin Marietta capturing various moments in the development of the MMU. That machine didn't end up being quite the star they hoped it would be, but my dad, Ed Whitsett, Bill Bollendonk, and the other engineers involved in creating it really thought they were building the future, and you can see it in their eyes.

BruceM_VGMA3 karma

Completely agree and thank you for the offer. I have been wanting to visit Huntsville for years. One of these days...

thetickletrunk11 karma

Any nifty UFO sightings up there?

BruceM_VGMA17 karma

Hello thetickletrunk. He certainly acknowledged that there are UFOs--things we don't yet understand--out there, but he wasn't willing to say that they were alien spacecraft. I'd say he was curious, but skeptical.

BruceM_VGMA16 karma

Actually I think I fumbled on this question. If you're asking if HE reported any UFO sightings, I'd have to say no. But he was open to the possibility.

8andahalfby119 karma

MMUs are not currently used on the ISS. Instead, a smaller thruster pack called SAFER is used instead. Did NASA have a specific use-case for MMU in mind that we just haven't gotten around to yet, or was it just a technology demonstrator?

BruceM_VGMA11 karma

Great question! As funded and produced in the early 80s, the MMU had a couple of intended uses. One was for repair of orbiter thermal tiles. In fact, John Young and Bob Crippen spent time at the Martin Marietta facility in Denver practicing EVAs with the MMU in order to prepare for such a task. That job went away when NASA figured out a better way to attach the tiles. The other job, and one that the MMU actually did perform on a couple of flights in the 80s, was retrieval of malfunctioning satellites for repair either in the payload bay of the orbiter or back on earth. NASA stopped using the MMU for several reasons: (1) the orbiter turned out to be more maneuverable than folks thought, and could get astronauts guite close to anything that needed to be picked up; (2) the robotic arm was also useful in this regard; (3) NASA more or less got out of the commercial satellite deployment business after the Challenger disaster; and (4) Challenger made NASA way more worried about the safety of its astronauts, and letting crewmembers leave the ship without a tether seemed like an unnecessary risk. The MMU was eventually re-imagined and engineered as the SAFER, a sort of gas-powered life-jacket, which is worn by all ISS astronauts on EVAs to this day. So what I like to say is, The MMU lives! And it's SAFER these days. Or something like that.

bommi_bommi_boomboom3 karma

Here's a satellite retrieval use case scenario that Bruce is talking about.

Dale Gardner grabs the satellite and then uses the MMU to stop the spinning. Jesus Christ.

BruceM_VGMA2 karma

bommi isn't that amazing? I love this footage, thanks for linking. That's what the MMU was capable of. Who knows? Maybe we'll see similar jetpacks in the future. The technology is there.

Finntrekkie9 karma

Even at this moment the International Space Station is in some trouble due to the #Nauka module acting out - do you think your father would have ideas on how to fix an out of control space station? Maybe with the help of a rocket backpack? :D

BruceM_VGMA10 karma

Hi Finntrekkie, great question. B2 would have been pounding on the mission control doors, shouting out possible solutions till they let him in! And yes, they would ALL have involved the jetpack--maybe multiple jetpacks!

Glad to see from latest reports that all seems to be under control again BTW.

mr_funny_face6 karma

I watched that jetpack test live on the Today Show back in 1984 I think. What's it like having an astronaut for a dad?

BruceM_VGMA6 karma

It was wearying when I was a kid because B2 kept getting passed over for flights and he wasn't sure why. We thought maybe we'd all done something wrong. He didn't get a mission until I was off in grad school. So I didn't really have the whole TV vans-in-the-driveway "astro kid" experience.

BruceM_VGMA4 karma

mr_funny_face I will say that Patrick Mullane's book Father, Son, and Holy Shuttle deals with that experience pretty well. His dad was astronaut Mike Mullane, who went up on a number of shuttle flights. CNN also did a series recently that featured the memories of several of the kids of the Apollo-era astronauts.

elpierce4 karma

If McDonald's starts making candles, are you going to ask for a cut?

BruceM_VGMA3 karma

Good one! I should do that myself--a whole line of designer McCandles.

cats_vs_dawgs4 karma

CapCom for the 1st moon walk. Bruce McCandless: ok Neil we can see you coming down the ladder now.

BruceM_VGMA2 karma

Very cool, thank you cats!

umdred114 karma

Your dad is so cool - I remember reading the transcript during Apollo 10 where he and another astronaut (I want to say Jack Lousma) did a radio show-style announcement sending up the news to the Apollo 10 crew!

Did your dad ever consider leaving after the Apollo program due to the lack of flight opportunities or was he determined to wait for the Shuttle?

BruceM_VGMA6 karma

Thank you umdred11. Despite a 1973 AP wire story calling him the "forgotten astronaut," one who would probably never fly, I don't think he ever thought about quitting as long as he had a chance, however hypothetical, at a shuttle mission. Jack Lousma was a great astronaut BTW and he and his wife were among my parents' best friends in the program.

umdred112 karma

That’s a great mentality - and it means a lot to me that you responded! I look up to all the Apollo-era astronauts for their bravery, your dad especially given what it took to do that IMU test!

BruceM_VGMA1 karma

Thank you umdred11. Those guys (and gals) are a special breed.

IsOdK4 karma

I believe that I am your second or third cousin. My fathers name is Stephen McCandless if you have time can you pm me?

BruceM_VGMA1 karma

OK just did!

monkeypowah3 karma

I remember you dad well.

Part of space history and skylab was the coolest spacestation ever ??

BruceM_VGMA3 karma

Thanks monkeypowah. He was a part of it for sure and yes, there's something very cool and just a little low-rent about space in the seventies. Whenever I see Skylab video footage, I start hearing the Isley Brothers' great song "Fight the Power" in my head...

bluebellbetty3 karma

Fellow Austinite here! Do you know who the "jetpack man" who flies over Los Angeles is?

BruceM_VGMA4 karma

I sure don't. I wish I did. I'd ask him if I could try out his machine!

-Samg381-2 karma

My Grandfather went to the Naval Academy with your father- he had some great things to say about him. Terribly sorry for your loss. Did your dad speak much about his time at the academy?

BruceM_VGMA2 karma

Hi Samg381. Yes, he spoke about those days often and very fondly. He loved his Class of '58 classmates and faithfully wore his NA ring. It would be hard to overstate his affection and gratitude for his Naval Academy experience.

Lankgren2 karma

Firstly, I wanted to share with you that my almost 5 year old son pretends to be your father in my house, with the MMU. He also had an imaginary visit from him for about a week.

Your father is an inspiration to so many people, and spans generations, and I really appreciate him and all he's done for the space program.

(Since I need a question...)do you think your father would be proud to know that even in 2021 he is inspiring people to become astronauts?

BruceM_VGMA2 karma

Nothing would make him happier or prouder than to know that a child somewhere is flying the MMU in an imaginary cosmos and dreaming of becoming an astronaut Thank you for sharing that!

stevep982 karma

Is your favorite monty python sketch ‘Bruce’? I imagine this is what you house was like growing up.

BruceM_VGMA5 karma

LOL. That is a great one, but I think my all-time favorite is the sketch where the team of Long John Silver impersonators plays soccer against a bunch of...what? Doctors? Dentists? I can't recall at the moment, but at the time I thought it was the funniest thing I'd ever seen. I made my dad watch it, but he didn't think it was quite so humorous.

Good-of-Rome2 karma

What's your favorite spaced themed media? Besides your own of course haha. I personally loved the movie Gravity (more from a cinema standpoint) and Interstellar (from science standpoint).

BruceM_VGMA4 karma

Oh man that's a tough one Good-of-Rome because I tend to like anything space-themed. I enjoyed Gravity and Interstellar but I think my favorite space movie is the documentary Apollo 11. It's hard to beat the clarity and beauty of that vintage film stock, and the landing on the moon is as dramatic as anything a script writer could have cooked up. With respect to books, I think Mike Collins's Carrying the Fire is still the best astronaut book. There's a number of fine space-related podcasts as well, including Space and Things, The Interplanetary Podcast, and The Launch Pad. That's a lot of space!

somebunnny1 karma

Feels like you forgot Galaxy Quest

BruceM_VGMA2 karma

I did, completely! Another great one, thank you for reminding me.

hushpuppy122 karma

You and your father both have done some pretty remarkable and amazing things! What made you not venture down the aerospace and space science path like your father did?

BruceM_VGMA11 karma

Thanks Hushpuppy12. I don't know that I ever made a conscious decision not to follow in my dad's footsteps. I just wasn't very good at the things he was good at. I've always been more interested in history, literature, etc.

Trav11992 karma

Makes sense you were in plan ii then! This is coming from a current student

BruceM_VGMA2 karma

A proud Plan II student for sure. Still talk to my several of my fellow students from those days.

oliness1 karma

How likely do you think a return to the moon is in the next 15 years? There seems to be serious plans to land on the moon, but they may well come to nothing. Does it look likely we will be returning this decade?

Agitated-Freedom-9782 karma

Hi Oliness. Yes I think we’ll be back on the moon by the end of the decade. NASA has been touting a 2024 return, which seems unlikely at this point, but I think we’ll get there by 2029 for sure. Thanks for asking! Bruce

BruceM_VGMA3 karma

Oliness that was me responding above--just logged in with the wrong name. B

kerrangutan1 karma

Considering the risk your father took in testing the MMU untethered, how did you feel growing up in thr gravity field generated by his massive balls of steel?

In all seriousness your father is a comple badass considering the potential risks involved in that test.

BruceM_VGMA1 karma

Thanks Kerrantugan. He was a badass and a remarkable person in many ways, as I've tried to demonstrate in my biography, Wonders All Around. Though other astronauts--Bob Stewart, Dale Gardner, Pinky Nelson, Joe Allen--also operated the device, the first flight of the MMU was a show-stopper for sure. As Senator John McCain said, "[T]he iconic photo of Bruce soaring effortlessly in space has inspired generations of Americans to believe that there is no limit to human potential."

theoneringnet1 karma

What's your favourite book?

BruceM_VGMA1 karma

Favorite space book is Carrying the Fire, for sure. Jim Hansen's First Man, about Neil Armstrong, is also excellent.

My favorite book all time is probably Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. I tried to write some McCarthy-like passages in my forthcoming novel In the Land of Dead Horses. Not sure whether I succeeded. At various times I've also loved Catch-22, Lonesome Dove, and Six Frigates, and the whole Master and Commander series of historical adventure novels, particularly Book 5.

Thanks for asking! You?

theoneringnet2 karma

I mean, not to jump on the bandwagon of the biggest selling book of the 20th century, but Lord of the Rings has gotten MANY people through the hard times of the pandemic.

BruceM_VGMA2 karma

Nice. I'm a fan, as is one of my daughters. I read The Hobbit to both of my kids when they were young.

Crystalnightsky1 karma

Did your father believe in extra terrestrials, aliens, UFOs? And do you?

BruceM_VGMA1 karma

Hi Crystalnightsky. I'm a bit more of a believer than he was. He certainly admitted that there were phenomena in nature, the sky, space, etc. that we don't understand, but he wasn't convinced that such phenomena were evidence of alien visitation.

turb0771 karma

My Step-dad and your Dad were in the same class at USNA. As a very young kid, I really wanted to be an astronaut and started a Young Astronauts club at my elementary school in 3rd grade. I had an opportunity to meet your Dad prior to viewing Haley’s Comet in 1986. He was so nice and engaging to a really young me back then! He gave me an astronauts pen that I cherished. By any chance were you also at that event? We met at a nearby hotel in Bethesda, then went to the Observatory. Best of luck to you on your ventures!!

BruceM_VGMA2 karma

Hi turbo77, and thanks for commenting. That is a cool story but I'm pretty sure I wasn't there, as I was in law school in 1986 and probably wrestling with the Rule Against Perpetuities or some such weighty legal doctrine. I'm sure your interest in space made my dad's day. He was also happy to meet fellow space junkies! Thank you for your kind words.

turb0771 karma

Ha! I narrowly missed going to law school, so I can only imagine. I’m going to pass along the news of your new book to my Step-dad. The Class of ‘58 was quite a storied class at USNA. Thanks for your note!

BruceM_VGMA2 karma

You're very welcome and I certainly agree, '58 is Great!

FloatYourBoatAsshat1 karma

What do you think the best college is for studying astrophysics? What degree(s) did your dad have? Also, I’m sorry about his passing, he was a legend!

BruceM_VGMA3 karma

Thank you FYBA, I appreciate the kind words. He had a Bachelor of Science degree from the Naval Academy and an MS in electrical engineering from Stanford. He was working on his PhD when he was selected to be an astronaut. I'm not really sure what the best university for studying astrophysics might be. It does seem like Caltech is a happening place for studying planetary astronomy these days. Anyone else have a lead on astrophysics?

HeWhoHerpedTheDerp1 karma

The pic of your dad floating over earth is the inspiration for my tattoo sleeve I’m on the wait list to get. It made me think of the feeling of drifting off into space, so it will be earth around the wrist with astronaut floating above and then the outer planets up the arm and then some of the nicer looking nebulae, etc higher up on the shoulder. Question mark? For the automod

BruceM_VGMA1 karma

OK that sounds pretty cool. Expensive, though!

OddlySaneConsidering1 karma

Why do you write "II" instead of "jr"? Do you pronounce it "junior" or "the second"?

BruceM_VGMA1 karma

Not sure why, really, but Bruce McCandless II was Dad's legal name and he never liked to use "Junior." It did get a bit confusing sometimes to have three Bruces wandering around--like the Monty Python sketch one Redditor mentioned yesterday.

Neither_decision_1 karma

What do you think the mental load on a person making that kind of leap into space, pardon the pun, is? And did you ever hear your father speak of the stress that space put in him? Id assume ot was stories of adventure and awesome stuff to a small boy. But as your father grew older, did he ever express anything "scary"? Thanks!

BruceM_VGMA1 karma

Neither_decision I think it's a pretty significant stressor, but remember, these guys (and gals) train and simulate the leap over and over again, so that helps. Bruce 2 was a pretty fearless individual, but he was human. He freely admitted that even as he jetted out away from the orbiter in 1984, he was always careful to keep the spaceship in view. It would not have been pleasant to be left behind up there.

riotblade761 karma

Why aren't you an astronaut?

BruceM_VGMA1 karma

No aptitude for it. I think being an astronaut requires more of a technical/scientific skillset than I have. I struggled a bit even with grasping some of the basic concepts involved in space travel for purposes of writing Wonders All Around. Orbital mechanics, for example. Don't get me started...

arcosapphire1 karma

Since it looks like you're still around answering questions, I have to wonder if you've tried the game Kerbal Space Program. It's probably the most effective way that millions of people have learned the basics of orbital mechanics.

BruceM_VGMA1 karma

No in fact I'd never heard of it before. But I'll check it out, thank you!

HzMeister-3 karma

Your father was a legend astronaut. You write fantasy books.

I'm sure your dad didn't show it, but deep down he was likely profoundly disappointed(what father wouldn't be). The man even gave you his name hoping for great things.

How do you feel about not living up to his legacy?

BruceM_VGMA2 karma

Fantasy and science fiction, yes--and now the bio/memoir/NASA history Wonders All Around, which is getting some nice reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Well, who knows how he really felt, but I think he was busier trying to live up to the legacy of his own father, the first Bruce McCandless, who was actually more widely known in his day than my dad in his. And B2 was always pretty supportive of my writing. He told me a story back in 2014 about how he went to church one Sunday and was approached by a fellow who rather shyly tapped him on the shoulder. "Yes?" he asked. The stranger said, "Are you Bruce McCandless?" "I am," my dad answered. "The Bruce McCandless?" the stranger persisted. "In the flesh," said my dad. The stranger nodded approvingly and asked, "The one who wrote Sour Lake?" We both got a laugh out of that one. True story? Who knows. He might have made it up, though fiction wasn't really his style. Either way, I appreciated it.