First man to conduct spacewalk, Alexei Leonov, dies

Rodiano Bonacci
Ottobre 12, 2019

Alexei #Leonov, a decorated Russian veteran #cosmonaut and the first man to have carried out a #spacewalk back in 1965, passed away in Moscow at the age of 85.

Besides his pioneering role in the early space program of the Soviet Union, Leonov was an accomplished artist and was considered an elder statesman in the global space community, providing inspiration for future astronauts of many nations.

NASA astronaut Ed White became the first American spacewalker three months later.

Unknown to mission control back home, he took the unsafe step of using a valve to release oxygen from his suit, a risky move since it could starve him of air he needed to survive.

They wore placards on their spacesuit backpacks, one saying "Leonov No. 1" and the other "Happy Birthday, Alexey Arkhipovich".

On his second trip to space 10 years later, Mr Leonov commanded the Soviet half of the Apollo-Soyuz 19 mission. He was born on 30 May 1934 in the small town of Listvyanka, in Siberia. Leonov did not give up sketching even when he flew into space, and took coloured pencils with him on the Apollo-Soyuz flight in 1975 to draw.

Leonov was also supposed to be the first man to land on the moon.

After the ASTP, Leonov was chief cosmonaut and later deputy director of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, where he supervised crew training. "You just can't comprehend it", he said.

"This is a loss for the whole planet", said Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko.

"His venture into the vacuum of space began the history of extra-vehicular activity that makes today's Space Station maintenance possible", Nasa said on Twitter.

"The Cosmonaut ambassador to the world", Aldrin tweeted on Friday.

He will be buried at the Federal Military Memorial Cemetery on October 15.

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