Alexei Leonov death: First person to spacewalk dies aged 85

Andrew Griffin
Friday 11 October 2019 13:24
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Alexei Leonov listens to Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen speak at the London Science Museum ahead of the launch of space mission Principia on December 15, 2015
Alexei Leonov listens to Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen speak at the London Science Museum ahead of the launch of space mission Principia on December 15, 2015

Alexei Leonov, the first person ever to spacewalk, has died.

Leonov passed away at 85 after a long illness and will be buried this month, Russian news agency TASS reported, citing his assistant.

The cosmonaut made history in 1965, when he stepped outside his spacecraft for just over 12 minutes and floated around, attached by a tether. The pioneering mission nearly ended in disaster when his suit inflated during the spacewalk and he was unable to fit back into the craft.

After the spacewalk was over, Leonov reflected on the beauty of looking down to see the world while floating above it.

"You just can't comprehend it," he said. "Only out there can you feel the greatness – the huge size of all that surrounds us."

Leonov would go on to lead the Soviet part of the Soyuz-Apollo mission, which 10 years later became the first joint space mission with the US.

He had also been selected as the first Soviet person to land on the Moon, before that mission was cancelled.

After his space career with the Soviet programme, Leonov moved into private business as well as serving in a number of political positions.

Leonov was also an accomplished author, writing a number of scientific works and biographical books. He was also a painter, creating hundreds of paintings, some of which were used on postage stamps in the USSR.

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