First man to conduct spacewalk, Alexei Leonov, dies aged 85

12 Octobre, 2019, 19:26 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov who died in Moscow today after an illness

Alexei Leonov, the first man to enter outer space, died in Russian Federation at the age go 85, TASS reported.

Leonov was head of the cosmonaut corps until January 1982 and became deputy director of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Moscow - known as "Star City".

The short foray, a significant advance in the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States, was no easy task, and not without its mishaps.

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

During the mission, his spacesuit filled with air to the point where he struggled to get back into the spacecraft.

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 was born on 30 May 1934 in the small town of Listvyanka, in Siberia.

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He was then chosen to be the first cosmonaut to land on the moon, but the catastrophic explosion of the Soviet N-1 moon rocket in 1969 abruptly ended Russia's moon aspirations. The détente-inspired mission saw the last Apollo spacecraft rendezvous in space with a Soviet Soyuz, as a demonstration of supposedly thawing US-Soviet relations.

Former Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov in 2010.

Two NASA astronauts are now outside the International Space Station on the second of several planned spacewalks to replace batteries affixed to the outside of the spacecraft.

Putin also congratulated Leonov at the time, calling him "a worthy representative of the legendary team of Soviet cosmonauts".

"His venture into the vacuum of space began the history of extravehicular activity that makes today's @Space_Station maintenance possible", NASA said on Twitter.

The memorial service and the funeral are expected to take place on 15 October, at the Federal Military Memorial Cemetery.

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