November 1st, 2019

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (left) and Christina Koch are inside the Quest airlock preparing the U.S. spacesuits and tools they used on their first spacewalk together. The Expedition 61 flight engineers are holding the pistol grip tools they used to swap out a failed power controller, also known as a battery charge-discharge unit, that regulates the charge to batteries that collect and distribute power to the International Space Station. Photo: NASA

Astronauts Koch, Meir make first all-woman spacewalk

Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir completed NASA’s first all-woman spacewalk on Friday, Oct. 18.

During the 7-hour, 17-minute spacewalk, the pair replaced a failed power controller and completed several other tasks in preparation for future spacewalks.

It was the first spaceflight for both women, who were selected as astronaut candidates in 2013 as part of the first class, of which 50% were women.

Meir was the 15th woman to spacewalk, and the 14th U.S. woman. It will be the 43rd spacewalk to include a woman. Women have been performing spacewalks since 1984, when Russian cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya spacewalked in July and NASA astronaut Kathryn Sullivan conducted a spacewalk in October.

Former astronaut continues practice of medicine with Elite Care ER

November 1st, 2018

Photo: Sandy Adams Photography

William F. Fisher is an American physician and a former NASA astronaut. Fisher went into space in 1985 on board the Space Shuttle. He retired from NASA in 1992 and returned to the full-time practice of medicine. His time at NASA coincided with that of his former wife and fellow astronaut Anna Lee Fisher.

Fisher was born April 1, 1946, in Dallas, TX He graduated high school in Syracuse, NY, then attended Stanford University before entering medical school at the University of Florida.

He married fellow physician and later fellow astronaut, Anna Lee Fisher of St. Albans, NY on Aug. 23, 1977. They have two daughters, Kristin Anne (b. July 29, 1983), who is a Washington D.C.-based correspondent for the Fox News Channel, and Kara Lynne (b. Jan. 10, 1989) who received her MBA degree in May, 2017 from SMU in Dallas.

Dr. Fisher collects Bill Graham Fillmore, Family Dog, and other rock/concert music posters from the 1965-1973 time frame. He is an amateur luthier, specializing in making, repairing, and refinishing Neapolitan-style mandolins. Dr. Fisher is also the owner of Twenty-First Century Arms, a sporting goods company, and is both a Federal Firearms Licensee and NFA Firearms Dealer.

After graduating from Stanford in 1968, he served as a mountaineering instructor in Leysin, Switzerland. Following his graduation from medical school in 1975, he completed a surgical residency from 1975 to 1977 at Harbor–UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California. He entered private practice in emergency medicine in 1977. He also attended graduate school at the University of Houston from 1978 to 1980. He has logged over 2,000 hours in prop, rotary-wing, jet aircraft and spacecraft.

Fisher was selected as NASA astronaut in 1980. His technical assignments included: scientific equipment operator for high altitude research on the WB-57F aircraft (1980–1981); astronaut medical support for the first four Shuttle missions (1980–1982); astronaut office representative for Extravehicular Mobility Unit (spacesuit) and Extravehicular Activity (EVA) procedures and development, including thermal vacuum testing of the suit (1981–1984); astronaut office representative for the Payload Assist Module (PAM-D) procedures and development (1982–1983); Astronaut office representative for Shuttle Mission Simulator (SMS) development (1983); support crewman for STS-8; CAPCOM for STS-8 and STS-9; Remote Manipulator System (RMS) hardware and software development team (1983); Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) development team (1983); Deputy Director of NASA Government-furnished and Contractor-furnished Equipment (1982–1983); Chief of Astronaut Public Appearances (1985–1987); Member of the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board (1986–1991); NASA Medicine Policy Board (1987–1991); Astronaut Office Space Station Manned Systems Division, and Health Maintenance Facility (1987–1989); Astronaut Office representative on space crew selection and retention standards for Space Station (1989–1991). Fisher also continued to practice Emergency Medicine in the greater Houston area in conjunction with his Astronaut duties.

Fisher was a mission specialist on STS-51-I, which launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on Aug. 27, 1985. STS-51-I was acknowledged as the most successful Space Shuttle mission yet flown. The crew aboard Space Shuttle Space Shuttle Discovery deployed three communications satellites, the Navy SYNCOM IV-4, the Australian AUSSAT, and American Satellite Company’s ASC-1. They also performed a successful on-orbit rendezvous with the ailing 15,400 pound SYNCOM IV-3 satellite, and two EVAs (space walks) by Fisher and van Hoften to repair it, including the longest space walk in history (at that time). Discovery completed 112 orbits of the Earth before landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California, on Sept. 3, 1985. Fisher logged over 170 hours in space, including 11 hours and 52 minutes of Extravehicular Activity (EVA).

After leaving NASA, Fisher returned to the practice of emergency medicine. Currently, Dr. Fisher practices full-time at Elite Care 24/7 ER- League City.

Astronaut Bruce McCandless II dies at 80

December 26th, 2017

Astronaut Bruce McCandless on First-ever Untethered Spacewalk

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

McCandless is perhaps best remembered as the subject of a famous NASA photograph flying alongside the space shuttle in the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) – the first astronaut to fly untethered from his spacecraft. His time as an astronaut encompassed much more than that mission, including serving as the mission-control communicator for Neil Armstrong’s and Buzz Aldrin’s moonwalk on the Apollo 11 mission.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bruce’s family,” said Robert Lightfoot, NASA’s acting administrator. “He will always be known for his iconic photo flying the MMU.”

McCandless, a retired U. S. Navy captain, was one of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. He was a member of the astronaut support crew for the Apollo 14 mission and was backup pilot for the first crewed Skylab mission. He flew as a mission specialist on two space shuttle missions. On STS-41B in 1984, he performed the famous spacewalk and on STS-31 in 1990 he helped deploy the Hubble Space Telescope.

Of his famous spacewalk, he wrote in 2015: “My wife [Bernice] was at mission control, and there was quite a bit of apprehension. I wanted to say something similar to Neil [Armstrong] when he landed on the moon, so I said, ‘It may have been a small step for Neil, but it’s a heck of a big leap for me.’ That loosened the tension a bit.”

Born June 8, 1937, in Boston, McCandless graduated from Woodrow Wilson Senior High School, Long Beach, Calif. He received a bachelor of science degree from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958, a master of science 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 City in 1987.

He was a co-investigator on the M-509 astronaut maneuvering unit experiment flown in the Skylab Program and collaborated on the development of the MMU. He was responsible for crew inputs to the development of hardware and procedures for the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), the Hubble Space Telescope, the Solar Maximum Repair Mission, and the Space Station Program. McCandless logged more than 312 hours in space, including four hours of flight time using the MMU.

Among the awards and honors received by McCandless are the Legion of Merit (1988); Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal (1985); National Defense Service Medal; American Expeditionary Service Medal; NASA Exceptional Service Medal (1974); American Astronautical Society Victor A. Prather Award (1975 & 1985); NASA Space Flight Medal (1984); NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal (1985); National Aeronautic Association Collier Trophy (1985); Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum Trophy (1985). He was awarded one patent for the design of a tool tethering system that was used during shuttle spacewalks.

Captain McCandless was the son of the late Rear Admiral (USN) and Mrs. Bruce McCandless. Admiral McCandless received the Congressional Medal of Honor for the naval battle of Guadalcanal, Dec. 12-13, 1942. He passed away in 1968. His paternal grandfather, Commodore (later Rear Admiral) Byron McCandless, USN, received the Navy Cross for World War I, and his maternal grandfather, Capt. Willis Winter Bradley, USN, was the first recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor in World War I.

Capt. McCandless is survived by his wife, Ellen Shields McCandless of Conifer, Colo.; his son, Bruce McCandless III of Austin, and his wife, Patricia; his daughter, Tracy McCandless, of Islamorada, Fla., and two granddaughters, Emma Rose and Carson Clare McCandless of Austin. He is also survived by a brother, Douglas M. McCandless of Washington, D.C.; and two sisters, Sue M. Woodridge of Texas, and Rosemary V. McCandless of Dallas.

Find McCandless’ biography at:

Find photos of McCandless at:

Legendary Astronaut Retires from NASA

May 1st, 2017

Anna Fisher, a member of NASA’s first astronaut class to include women and the first mother in space, has retired after more than three decades of service to the agency.

Fisher was a mission specialist on Space Shuttle mission STS-51A, the second flight of the orbiter Discovery, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, on November 8, 1984. Fisher was assigned to her flight two weeks before delivering her daughter and flew in space when her daughter was just fourteen months old, making her the first mother in space. Fisher logged a total of 192 hours in space.

“We appreciate all of the years that Anna has dedicated to our space program,” said Chris Cassidy, chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “She has provided insight to many incoming astronauts as well as new programs. Anna, and that first class of astronauts to include women, set the stage for decades of female astronauts after them and provide a tremendous inspiration to young girls.

Fisher was born in New York City, but considers San Pedro, California, to be her hometown. She holds a doctorate in medicine from the University of California, Los Angeles, and was selected by NASA to be an astronaut in 1978. She joined five other women as the agency’s first female astronauts.

During her shuttle mission, Fisher and her crew deployed two satellites: Canada’s Anik D-2 (Telesat H) and Hughes’ LEASAT-1 (Syncom IV-1) and operated the Radiation Monitoring Equipment (RME) device and the 3M Company’s Diffusive Mixing of Organic Solutions (DMOS) experiment. As the first space salvage mission, the crew also retrieved the Palapa B-2 and Westar VI satellites for return to Earth.

Fisher was assigned as a mission specialist on STS-61H that was planned in 1986. The mission was cancelled following the Challenger accident, so Fisher resumed technical assignments in the Astronaut Office. She served on the Astronaut Selection Board for the 1987 class of astronauts and in the Space Station Support office, where she worked part time in the Space Station Operations branch. Fisher also was the crew representative supporting space station development in the areas of training, operations concepts and the health maintenance facility.

From 1989 through 1995, Fisher was on a leave of absence from the Astronaut Office to raise her family, returning in January 1996. From 1996 through 2002, during the early phase of building the International Space Station, Fisher was the chief of the Space Station branch. In that capacity, she coordinated inputs to the operations of the space station for the Astronaut Office, working closely with the international partners and supervising assigned astronauts and engineers. Fisher played an important role in building the foundations for the International Space Station Program, which is advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space.

From January 2011 through August 2013, Fisher served as an ISS Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) working in the Mission Control Center and was the lead CAPCOM for Expedition 33. Most recently, Fisher was a management astronaut, working on display development for Orion, NASA’s new spacecraft which will take astronauts farther into the solar system than ever before.

Fisher is retiring to spend more time with her family, including her daughters, Kristin and Kara Fisher.