There are several news items about the recent passing of astronaut Bruce McCandless II, and they generally refer to his work developing, and then using the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU).
- BBC: Bruce McCandless, who made first untethered space flight, dies at 80
- NBC: NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless, first to fly untethered in space, dies at 80
- NPR: Bruce McCandless, First Astronaut To Fly Untethered In Space, Has Died
Access to the original New York Times article describing McCandless' first use of the MMU is provided in a free sample from their archive TimesMachine.
Question: What is the farthest distance that an astronaut has been free-floating in space from any spacecraft other than a space suit, presumably with an attached propulsion unit?
I'm not sure if a "how many times" question should be asked separately, or if it's better to include here. I'm guessing this hasn't happened very many times.
NASA video of McCandless: Astronaut Bruce McCandless II Floats Free in Space, video and much more: NASA Remembers Astronaut Bruce McCandless II.
below: "This Feb. 7, 1984 photo made available by NASA shows astronaut Bruce McCandless II participating in a spacewalk a few meters away from the cabin of the Earth-orbiting space shuttle Challenger, using a nitrogen-propelled Manned Maneuvering Unit." Photo: AP. From here
below: "On Feb. 12, 1984, Bruce McCandless ventured away unrestrained from the safety of his spaceship, which no previous astronaut had done. He could do it because of a brand-new, jet-powered backpack." Photo: NASA. Cropped from here.