Thursday, 17 October, 2019

Alexei Leonov, 1st human to walk in space, dies in Moscow

Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov who made the first spacewalk in 1965 right and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov who made the first spacewalk in 1965 right and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for
Patty Aguilar | 11 October, 2019, 23:28

Alexei Leonov died at Moscow's Burdenko hospital after a long illness, his assistant Natalia Filimonova said, with the cosmonaut's demise being confirmed by the Yuri A. Gagarin State Scientific Research-and-Testing Cosmonaut Training Center.

Mr Leonov staked his place in space history on March 18, 1965, when he exited his Voskhod 2 capsule secured by a tether.

Leonov flew a second time in 1975, when he was the commander of the Soviet half of the landmark Apollo-Soyuz test project, the first Russian-American joint space mission.

Leonov's pioneering spacewalk marked a crucial step for the development of moon landing programs and the International Space Station. Earlier this year, International Space Station cosmonauts recorded birthday greetings for Leonov in space.

The first American to walk in space, Ed White, wouldn't do so until June that same year.

Leonov was born in 1934 in the former Soviet Union. In the vacuum of space, his suit had ballooned to the point that it would not fit through the hatch.

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British astronaut Tim Peake said Mr Leonov was "a hero to so many, pioneer of spacewalking and always full of wisdom and humour". Several days before that, two Russian crewmembers on the International Space Station ventured into open space on a planned spacewalk with stickers attached on their spacesuits paying tribute to him, and congratulated him from space.

Leonov's modern-day successor, Oleg Kononenko, who was one of the two Russians on that spacewalk, told Rossiya-24 television on Friday that Leonov had tuned in to hear their congratulations from space.

Messages of condolences poured in from around the globe.

"One of the finest people I have ever known", former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield tweeted on Friday.

The cosmonaut who made history by exiting his capsule for 12 minutes nearly 54 years ago will be laid to rest next Tuesday at a federal military cemetery.

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