First human to walk in space, Alexei Leonov, dies at 85
First human to walk in space, Alexei Leonov, dies at 85
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12 October, 2019, 19:27
Roscosmos confirmed Leonov's death, at the age of 85, on Friday.
As part of the early cadre of Soviet cosmonauts, Leonov exited his Voskhod 2 spacecraft, co-piloted by Pavel Belyayev, on March 18, 1965.
Leonov was born in 1934 in the former Soviet Union. Ed White, who floated free of Gemini 4 later that same year. Leonov struggled to re-enter the spacecraft because his space suit had ballooned beyond the diameter of the hatch.
Leonov - described by the Russian Space Agency as Cosmonaut No. 11 - was an icon both in his country as well as in the US.
He also was the Soviet commander of the Apollo-Soyuz joint space mission in 1975, a prelude to the worldwide co-operation seen aboard the current space station.
Leonov was also known as an author and painter, with some of his works used on Soviet postage stamps.
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An artist as well as a cosmonaut, Leonov took colored pencils altered for zero gravity with him on Voskhod 2, and sketched an orbital sunrise, which is considered the first piece of art created in space. Once the US Apollo and Soviet Soyuz capsules docked in orbit around Earth on July, 17, 1975, Leonov and his Russian crewmate, Valeri Kubasov, welcomed the three US astronauts - their Cold War rivals - with canned borscht disguised as Stolichnaya vodka and suggested a toast.
Leonov celebrated his 85th birthday on May 30 and cosmonauts Kononenko and Alexei Ovchinin dedicated a May spacewalk to him, taking a picture of him into space and wearing spacesuits with birthday greetings written on the back.
After the ASTP, Leonov was chief cosmonaut and later deputy director of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, where he supervised crew training.
Leonov's wife, however, did not comment on the reports, saying simply that "this isn't the time". "You just can't comprehend it", he said.
He will be buried at the Federal Military Memorial Cemetery on October 15.
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NASA said Leonov's achievement "began the history of extravehicular activity that makes today's [ISS] maintenance possible". British astronaut Tim Peake described the Russian as "a hero to so many" who was "always full of wisdom and humour".
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