WASHINGTON — U.S. astronaut Bruce McCandless, the first person to free-float untethered on a spacewalk, died Thursday. He was 80.

During the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, McCandless also served as the Mission Control communicator for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, who became the first men to walk on the moon.

“McCandless is perhaps best remembered as the subject of a famous NASA photograph, flying alongside the space shuttle in the Manned Maneuvering Unit,” according to a NASA profile.

A retired Navy captain, McCandless was a member of the astronaut support crew for the Apollo 14 mission and backup pilot for the first crewed Skylab mission.

He performed his famous spacewalk in 1984 and in 1990 helped deploy the Hubble Space telescope, which was launched to investigate far-off galaxies.

Born in Boston, McCandless received a bachelor of science degree from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958, a master of science degree in electrical engineering from Stanford in 1965, and a masters degree in business administration from the University of Houston at Clear Lake City in 1987.