The first man to ever walk in space has died

12 Octobre, 2019, 09:46 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau

Leonov has died in Moscow this Friday, according to Russia's Cosmonaut Training Center officials.

Russian space agency Roscosmos Space Corporation announced his passing Friday.

Astronauts replaced oversized batteries outside the International Space Station on Friday, as news broke of the death of the world's first spacewalker.

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

Tass reports he died after battling a long illness. "Putin always admired Leonov's courage".

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield wrote on Twitter: "One of the finest people I have ever known".

Leonov - described by the Russian Space Agency as Cosmonaut No. 11 - was an icon both in his country as well as in the US. NASA said Leonov's achievement "began the history of extravehicular activity that makes today's [ISS] maintenance possible".

Leonov's feats were immortalised in cinema and literature. He was such a legend that the late science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke named a Soviet spaceship after him in his 2010 sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Leonov was born on May 30, 1934, and raised in a large peasant family in western Siberia.

Leonov's mission was orchestrated by Sergei Korolev, chief architect of the Soviet space programme and the man responsible for Yuri Gagarin's monumental departure from the Earth's atmosphere on board Vostok 1 in April 1961.

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Tributes have poured in for Alexei Leonov.

That mission was the first one between the Soviet Union and the United States and was carried out at the height of the Cold War.

Connected to the Voskhod by an 18-foot-long tether, Leonov spent 12 minutes floating outside before struggling to get back inside his spacecraft. Just the previous month an unmanned mission to test.

The crew was discovered four hours later and rescued only in two days as it was an ordeal to reach them.

The cosmonaut turned 85 in May.

Leonov helped train other cosmonauts before retiring in 1992, a year after the Soviet Union collapsed. He is survived by his widow Svetlana and his younger daughter Oksana.

"Alexei is a unique person", she told AFP.

He helped many cosmonauts and was a "great storyteller", space historian Alexander Glushko said.

His funeral will be held October 15 at Mytishchi Military Memorial cemetery outside Moscow.

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